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How to eat healthier at restaurants

We've all been there, wanting to eat a light and healthy dinner when attending a fancy restaurant, but we're unable to make up our minds as to what the best option would be.

Now, new research has shown that this indecision may not be down to our own lack of ability to chose, but could be more to do with the layout of the menu and even the font that is used.

A study carried out by Cornell University examined a total of 217 menus at a range of restaurants offering all manner of cuisines, with the results showing that the way the menu is created has a significant bearing upon people's choices and even influencing how much they enjoy a meal.

It found that items set apart from the main body of the menu or highlighted in bold were more popular with diners, while the description of dishes also played a crucial role in the level of enjoyment when the food finally arrives.

The study compared the use of basic food titles to more descriptive offerings, finding that when a more in-depth description was offered diners were more satisfied with the end product.

Overall, the study revealed a 28 per cent improvement in the level of taste for dishes that had more descriptive titles, despite the fact they used the same recipe when being prepared. In addition, it found that diners were prepared to pay up to 12 per cent more for dishes with a thorough description.

Brian Wansink, lead author of the report and author of Slim by Design:  Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, commented that as a result, the best way to find the most suitable dishes to meet one's proclivities is to simply ask for advice.

"Just ask your server. Ask 'what are your two or three lighter entrees that get the most compliments?' or 'What's the best thing on the menu if a person wants a light dinner?'"

By taking this approach and being a bit more savvy about decision making, diners can ensure they are maintaining a healthy diet when eating out.

Posted by Stewart ElliottADNFCR-2960-ID-801738804-ADNFCR

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