After reading this news you might rethink before choosing friends for eating out, especially if you have recently decided to start with eating healthier food plan. When it comes to latest research on our eating habits, you should definitely think about people you surround yourself with, when going for a meal in a restaurant. Food economist Brenna Ellison researcher from University of Illinois has spent three months undercover at a Stillwater, Oklahoma restaurant, whose management had agreed to modify their menus and dining sections for an experiment. After observing people and their food ordering decisions, she came across some really interesting results.
Traffic light as measuring tool
Instrumentality she used for her experiment, were menus adjusted for her research. One menu contained regular pricing and items; another included calorie counts for each meal. There was also a third menu, of highest importance for the experiment. This one had both calorie counts and small traffic light symbols indicating nutritional value. Green, yellow, and red represented a caloric range of 0-400, 401-800, and 800+ respectively. So it becomes obvious right away, why this method of traffic light is convenient for this research; you would maybe go through the red light, but only If your friends who you’re eating out in this case would do the same. Different sections in the restaurant were ordering from different menus, not being aware of this. Her analyses started when she would collect receipts from the restaurant, at the end of working hours each day.
By collecting and analyzing receipts Brenna Ellison has come to results that were showing high tendency of ordering light food, among people who were ordering from so called traffic light menus. Larger the groups were, higher was the number of light food ordered. According to Ellison, the phenomenon doesn't have to do with the feeling of guilt, as you might expect, but just with the typical desire among people for a feeling of belonging. She pointed out that we simply don’t want to be that different from others; we want to fit in with people dining with.
There was something even more interesting behind these results. Apparently, even if you were unhappy with the idea of ordering something form light food section, just in order to fit in with the others, you would became happier after all the rest did the same.
Since you can’t control your subconscious and if you trust research results, try eating out with friends who have healthier eating habits, if you want to keep or start with eating healthier food plan. Well that’s not some news that we are mostly influenced by friends, but sometimes we have to go for a dinner with people who are not necessarily our friends or family. There is one good advice given by Ellison in this case. You should always order first because it seems like the ones doing that are the ones who truly get what they want. So you will hear the others saying “I’ll Have What He's Having". You order, sit back and observe, let your own research to take place. You could also let Industry Leaders know if you’re eating healthier food plan is working.