According to recent findings by the Department of Health Policy and Management of UCLA, marketers have upped their game. As the public has become more aware and resistant to ‘super sizing’ (and the like), many chain restaurants have countered by adjusting the way they present their offerings to us.
When going out for meal with friends or family, stay on your guard and be aware of tricky meal placement and options on menus. Many restaurants have put a great deal of effort into presenting themselves as participants in the more health conscious wave of restaurateurs by saying they offer healthier meal options while not compromising taste. Problem is, when you sit down and proceed to read the menu their more flamboyant, calorie ridden (and expensive!) food is described in delicious detail while the simpler, more healthy fare (the reason you chose that establishment to begin with, remember?) is listed at back, almost as an afterthought.
Restaurants want you to choose the meals with their most mark up. Watch for ploys like a lovely healthy fish with steamed veggies placed right beside Fettuccini Alfredo with crab. Yes, it has fish in it and yes it’s a lower priced item but the starch, calorie and fat content are through the roof and your body knows the difference. Rich, beautiful colored pictures sway the rational part of your brain from the “I want to be healthy, choose the right item and stay on track ” mindset to the “I’ll deal with it later” syndrome. Know you’re being manipulated and fight back! When you’re handed the menu, go straight to the food that makes sense. Don’t spend a great deal of time mulling the menu over. Find something that works with you in the right direction and enjoy the fact you’ve chosen well, still get to enjoy your meal secure in the knowledge you haven’t fallen for it and still on track!
Another trick employed by chain restaurants is the ‘mini meal’ plate. An assortment of all sorts of offerings, no one in and of itself a big problem – but collectively … you just blew it and overate by 20%. Study after study has proven this kind of menu choice encourages a ‘just one more’ attitude. Smaller portions are great but not if over indulged. Watch for how the food is prepared as well. Deep fried, breaded, sauteed in rich, heavy cream sauces – all a backslide in terms of helping you be your best and accomplish your goals.