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Food Psychology Strategies to help Elevate your Foodservice Experiences

Have you ever been to a nice restaurant and the food is almost too beautiful to eat? Well, there is psychology behind your salad that looks like a Picasso painting!

Depending on where your foodservice operation is located, your clientele may have different nutritional needs that you should keep in mind when developing menus and plating food. For instance, as adults age, many changes influence their eating. Medications and physical, sensory and cognitive impairments can interfere with older adults’ enjoyment and physical ability to eat.  Eating difficulties can lead to serious consequences like dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss and more. Thus, foodservice operators should understand the psychology behind food plating to ensure their customer is receiving the best that is possible.

When plating is artistic, people enjoy food more than, if the same ingredients were randomly placed on the plate. Hence why you would rather eat a salad plated to resemble a painting. One way for children to have a more enjoyable experience with their food is to place ingredients in the shape of a face - like a broccoli floret for a nose, cucumber slices for eyes and red bell peppers to form a mouth. People have even become Instagram famous for their beautiful food art! 

Ida Skivenes (www.idafrosk.com) is a famous artist from Norway who creates (and eats!) food art. She is crafted food to look like the Eiffel Tower, a hot air balloon, a bumblebee and more. You do not have to get this creative, however, it is important to keep in mind who you are serving and that the food looks thoughtful on the plate.

Along with artistic food, the shape and color of the dinnerware can also affect taste. Round, white plates enhance sweet flavors in food, whereas black, angular plates bring out flavors that are more savory. Serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat. Also, keep in mind “The Large Plate Mistake,” especially if your clientele will be serving themselves during mealtimes. Research has proven that diners will eat more food when using a larger plate. So, if your foodservice operation cannot change the color of your dinnerware, change the size. Using smaller plates ultimately leads to clientele choosing smaller portions.

Foodservice operators can change dishware to better accommodate the dining needs of clientele. If your clientele needs to eat less, select plates that have high color contrast with the food that is being served. For instance, if your clientele needs to eat more greens, serve them on a green plate. Another idea is to use table clothes too. Foodservice operators can select a tablecloth with a low-contrast to the dinnerware to lower the likelihood of over-serving or stimulate the eating.

Color, size, shape, material of small wares and plating play a role in elevating the dining experience. Keep the food psychology in mind with the selection of smallwares to affect positive nutrition and hydration. 

Alluserv Team

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Webinar: How COVID-19 is Changing Healthcare Foodservice in 2020

Restaurants and Hospitals were among the major foodservice providers who changed their MOs and SOPs virtually overnight. This impacted food safety practices for them, their employees, clients and customers, and things may never be the same.

Objectives:
•Identify the huge operational shifts created for essential foodservice operators who must continue to operate during a pandemic and for the restaurants trying their best to do so
•Identify the food safety challenges created by this public health crisis and the strategies to address them.
•Summarize the lessons learned and forecasting future ones that will alter every step of the feeding process from supplier to operator to server to customer.

Presenter: Mary Angela Miller MS RDN, LD, President, KeepSafe Food, LLC
Moderated by: Marsha Diamond, MA, RDN, President, Diamond Approach

Sponsored by AHF-NJ, Alluserv and Lakeside Foodservice.

Recorded Webinar

CEU Certificate

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A Step-by-Step Look at Senior Care In-Room Meal Delivery

From prep to presentation, take a quick look at meal delivery with the SuzyQ

As we continue to navigate the world of COVID-19, we’re seeing changes in the ways foodservice is delivered. Nowhere is this more important than in senior care and longterm care communities.

As we’ve all seen, older populations are the most vulnerable demographic, and new regulations have been devised to help protect them. One of the most important is to move dining service from dining rooms and common spaces, opting instead for personal, in-room delivery. Continue reading A Step-by-Step Look at Senior Care In-Room Meal Delivery

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How Senior Care Dining Impacts Mental Health

In healthcare, mealtimes can be some of the most anticipated and enjoyable times of the day.

There’s no doubting the fact people love food. We love the way it tastes, the way it feels in our mouth, the way it nourishes us. We love the socialization that usually comes with food. Dining is an experience. And most important, it’s good for our mental health.

Nowhere is this more true than in our senior care and long term care communities. According to one study on senior care and foodservice, “mealtimes are a mainstay of life through which residents’ experiences are characterized, exemplified, and magnified. In the study, the three themes that impact a resident’s experience were emotional and psychological connections with other residents, managing competing interests with limited resources, and familiarity and routine.

Food and meals touch on all three.

1) Food brings residents together. Though traditionally in communal dining areas, meals are enjoyed together and provide opportunities for conversation and socialization.

2) Food provides a sense of control. When residents have meal choice, when they can literally decide what goes on their plate and what doesn’t, it provides an element of control that can often be hard to come by for residents in long term communities.

3) Food provides routine. For many in long term communities, mealtimes provide needed stabilization in terms of day-to-day routines. When you know you’re going to eat lunch every day at 11:30, it provides welcome familiarity

Senior Care Foodservice in the Age of COVID

Today, of course, we’re living in an entirely different world. The processes by which food is served in these types of communities have been turned upside down, and foodservice directors are doing whatever they can to help residents still achieve the three points above, the points that are so critical to the mental health and well-being of our seniors living in these communities.

The reality is, communal dining has pretty much been taken away from us due to the potential exposure created by the Coronavirus. Operations across the country are moving to models where food is ordered and delivered directly to residents’ rooms.

In terms of socialization, foodservice staff need to be creative. They need to understand the personal delivery of food in a resident’s room is still the highlight of the day in many cases, but now that highlight comes without the ability to dine with friends. Those brief interactions when food is delivered become critical for the well being of residents.

Choice is still choice. In some ways, the concept of calling in an order and receiving it delivered can be kind of fun for residents. Play up that angle. When residents are restricted from the dining room, creative room service can be a fun way to provide some joy.

And, lastly, food is still part of the routine. Though that routine may be a bit different, it still provides consistency in someone’s day, allowing them to feel reassurance that what someone is used to will continue.

Just because COVID-19 has changed senior care foodservice doesn’t mean everything is changed for the worse.

Discover the basics of this new era of senior care foodservice by learning more from our resident senior care expert. From new and creative ways to deliver food, as well as the systems that need to be in place to accomplish it, watch on-demand, or download, our webinar “Customer Confidence in Food Safety“.

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Umami – The 5th Flavor

Umami Saves The Taste (Buds): Elevating Food Flavor

Imagine you’re out to eat, about to be served. You know the food is ready when you smell the aroma from a few feet away. When it arrives to the table, your mouth begins to water at the sight of the dish you’ve been looking forward to. You take a bite, but it tastes bland. This can be rather disappointing if you have been anticipating a delicious meal. This is your senses at work. We use senses such as sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste to make judgments about the food we eat. We eat with our eyes first, smell second and taste last. Taste is the most influential in determining our enjoyment of a food. You might be familiar with the basic tastes like sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but we have an additional taste, also known as Umami.

Umami is a savory taste imparted by glutamate, found in dishes like meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. The goal of Umami is to bring out the natural flavors in food and ultimately, enhance the flavoring of the food. Increasing the use of Umami in dishes could:

  1. Introduce new ingredients to food - The primary role of Umami is to make food more flavorful, but it also changes how our dishes are prepared. Umami can be used on its own or in conjunction with other flavors and foods, which opens up new ideas on traditional recipes.
  2. Increase food acceptability and consumption - When a food tastes good, we normally want to eat more of it. This is especially important when trying to increase intake of foods like fruits and vegetables. Umami can influence the perceptions of these foods in dishes and increase their overall acceptance on the plate.
  3. Reduce food waste - On the contrary, we naturally leave more food on the plate when we don’t like it. This can add to the pile of food wasted on a daily basis. Umami has the potential to reduce food waste by increasing the desirability of the dish. 
  4. Enhance overall customer experience - One of the most common objectives of a foodservice operation is to give the customer the best experience possible. If the food tastes good, there is higher customer satisfaction. This increases the chances might even recommend and rave about the food!

Try a simple taste test with your team. Add Umami to a portion of soup and one without. We have experienced this test and the difference was significant as adding Umami gave the broth a savory feel, without interfering with the texture or the presentation of it. Umami’s usage can have a huge impact on how your patients and customers enjoy their food. You may be surprised on the impact on the enjoyment of future dining experiences too, especially in those who have compromised or diminished taste buds due to illnesses or aging. Umami can give these populations better eating and tasting experiences thus, better consumption and nutrition.

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Sleep Can Affect the Workplace

“Sleep is for the weak” is a phrase commonly used to influence people to stay awake for longer hours, but have we considered the toll that a lack of sleep can take on health? At this year’s food nutrition conference and expo, there was session titled, Best of the Rest, that proposed sleep being a piece of the health puzzle with food choices and exercise too, presented by Dr. Michael Grandner.

Sleep is a biological process that starts with our sleep drive and our biological clock.  In this process, our body recovers and repairs from the day. So, what are the consequences of a lack of sleep?

Nutritionally, a lack of sleep can impair the immune system, putting us at a higher risk of getting sick. Also, those who aren’t getting enough sleep tend to gain weight and have higher susceptibility to chronic health conditions like obesity and hypertension. Not only are there health consequences (higher disability and insurance costs), but exhausted employees can have just as much of a negative impact on the workplace environment (productivity levels, falls, mistakes)

A lack of sleep increases our sleep drive, meaning, we feel more tired as we go about our day. Our brain is constantly sending signals to the body that we need rest. This is why we have a harder time concentrating when we are tired. Inadequate sleep makes it difficult to make complex decisions, resulting in a lack of effective communication amongst team members. This can hinder productivity levels and set the tone of their environment daily. Currently, over 30% of people don’t get good sleep.

 Steps that can be taken to ensure you and your team members get your z’s?

  1. Your work environments-consider the design of Zen gardens and rest venues. Napping boosts alertness and accuracy.  Nappers are more alert, respond faster and better, and make fewer mistakes. Even a 20-minute nap was found to improve alertness and performance among shift workers.
  2. Replicate these type of design for employees -Recharge rooms, nap pods.
  3. Inservice training included with orientations, etc. to educate what can tips to  get a better-quality sleep.
  4. picking an optimal time and amount of sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours for adults.
  5. Minimize any light exposure during sleep can also disturb the sleep cycle.
  6. Avoid smart devices or tv screens before going to sleep
  7. Minimize or avoid smoking and alcohol several hours before your bedtime

Keep in mind that these recommendations go hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle, food options and exercise. Promoting lifestyle practices in the workplace can have plenty of benefits including: reduced health care costs, increased concentration for effective decision making and overall, higher workplace productivity.

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Patients Eat With Their Eyes First

How a food looks tell the patient a lot about the food and the foodservice team accountability and experience. People use the way a food looks to judge the food for freshness and quality. When the food is visually appealing to a patient, you accomplish your mission of providing nourishment for the recovery and healing of your patients.

COLOR, SHAPE, SIZE AND POSITION OF FOOD MATTERS IN VISUAL APPEAL

COLOR: The most impactful eye appeal

  • Break up the colors
  • Enhance the colors
  • Make it “glisten”
  • Keep the colors natural

SHAPE: Ingredients

  • Vary the cuts of ingredients
  • Add textures to the dish

STYLE: Arranging ingredients, plating

  • Traditional – The Y style of plating
  • Modern plating
  • Simplicity

Aroma Strategies:

  • Include variety
  • Add flavor to comfort food
  • Herbs add color, taste and smell
  • Cooking techniques can enhance aroma and experience
  • Be aware of visual placement on the tray, temperature awareness, less is more, easy to handle and maneuver on tray space

For more on this topic, click here to watch Alluserv's last webinar!