Size matters and not just desserts

Nov. 9, 2011 | by Betsy Craig

More and more people are becoming aware of their health and the health issues out there. This in turn is a deciding factor in what meals and size of meal they choose when they want to eat out. The restaurants that are becoming more accommodating to these diners are seeing a rise in sales as a result.

Moe's Southwest Grill development committee member Laura Leigh Drake came up with an idea that skyrocketed for her. People were going into the restaurant and loving the food, however, the burritos were too big to finish and customers didn't like wasting so much food. Drake suggested that they cut the burrito in half and start serving that as a portion on the menu. It became a hit and revenue increased. Their diners were happy because they didn't have to compromise with their friend and share a burrito anymore. They could order exactly what they wanted while still feeling like they were eating healthy and not wasting. Drake still eats at Moe's today for the fresh, healthy burritos.

T.G.I. Friday's restaurants became the first restaurant chain to offer a variety of smaller portion entrees at lower prices. They called the menu section Right Portion, Right Price. Diners were pleased to have this option and T.G.I. Friday's became more popular as a healthy place to eat.

So why not just offer smaller portions like Moe's and T.G.I. Friday's, since everyone seems to like the new trend of wanting smaller portions in order to eat healthy?

Some restaurants will let you order a smaller portion or half an order of the regular menu item, but only if you ask. It is not presented on their menu, therefore most diners do not know they can order a smaller portion and are less likely to ask about it.

Mayo Clinic online states that people eat more when they are presented with larger portions, hence the rise in obesity in the U.S. When people eat out, their thoughts on serving sizes are being completely twisted by the portions. If restaurants were to present a smaller portion size on the menu, it would encourage people not to overeat.

In a CBS article, Samantha Heller, a clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center, offers tips to control overeating. It is recommended to skip supersizing items, choose "regular" or "small" portions when eating out, and only eat half a meal at restaurants and share the rest or take half home. When dining out, cutting back portion sizes is one of the best strategies to help individuals lose or maintain weight. More people are realizing this and wanting these options on the menu.

The Associated Press also wrote about this topic stemming from a 136-page report by The Keystone Center, an education and public group based in Keystone, Colo. It states that Americans consume one-third of their daily intake of calories when eating out. The report recommends that restaurants shift the importance of their marketing to lower-calorie choices, and include more of these options on menus. Letting diners know how many calories a meal has can also guide them in their choices on what to order.

Just because of a lifestyle choice doesn't mean the diner needs to sacrifice taste! If diners are presented with the option of smaller portions, they will surely go eat at that restaurant again.


Topics: Food & Beverage , Health & Nutrition , Operations Management

Betsy Craig / Betsy Craig brings 20 years of food service industry experience to MenuTrinfo, LLC a menu nutritional labeling Company. Her commitment to the betterment of the food industry and her desire to affect the dining public are the driving forces behind her new company Kitchens with Confidence, LLC.
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