Consumer Food Habits in Relation to Nutrition

Joined Sep 25, 2000
Managers in the hospitality industry should recognize that consumers today have knowledge of and experience with food(no matter how limited that may be), which makes them highly critical of food compared to other products. Nutritional intake is largely dependent on food habits and preferences- which, in turn, are intimately related to several complex beliefs and habits, which are very hard to change since they are aquired over a long period of time.The intake of nutrients depend on what are prefered, selected, and consumed.
The most important factors that influence consumers food preferences should be taking in concideration when planning a nutritional menu ar item:

Intrinsic, which have to do with direct influences of food, such as appearance, color, odor, texture, temperature, flavor, and quality.The way food presented (including both desirable and undesirable attributes), the way it is arranged on the plate, and the temperature in which it is served all have an impact on food preferences. Fof example, standardized large-quantity food production may result in a different food preference ranking than when it is in a small-quantity at home. Variability in these intrinsic factors affects food preferences.

Extrinsic,are the external factors that deal with issues such as:
Environment, situational expectations, advertising, and time and seasonal variations.

Biological, Physiological, and Phychological Factors, These factors are each broad in scope but they are grouped together here because they are closely interrelated. Physiological disorders can have a profound effect on food preference by changing food appreciation, perception, or appetite. These changes associated with phychological influences commonly related to physical well being. Age and sex are major demographic factors that influence food preferences. A good example is the higher acceptence of and preference for fast food by our younger generation.

Personal Factors, which include, level of expectation, priority, familiarity, influence of other people, emotions and moods, family unit, and educational status.

Socioeconomic Factors

Cultural and Religious Factors

And most importent factors are;
Food Characteristics,

I will go in details as we go along.

[ March 09, 2001: Message edited by: Chef David Simpson ]
Joined Oct 6, 2001
CDS- you've brought up some very important factors in menu writing.

I think that 2 things we all have to remember is to make dishes lookexciting and inviting; and soundexciting, interesting and flavourful on a menu.

So many restaurants only place a token "healthy" item on their menu. If I see one more "grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables and rice" I think I would scream!! There is more to life than a piece of grilled chicken (which most restaurants over cook until its dry!), Even Subway caught on to the fact that they needed more than 1 kind of sandwich to make their consumers happy!

So, creating a variety of exciting colourful descriptions and plates will invite more people to choose the dishes they should be eating.
Joined Oct 6, 2001
Grilled Veggie Skewers Appetizer
-use creative dips (using baby veggies would upscale it

Non-cream based fruit soup (if in upscale environment) Tart Cherry is wonderful! (Also makes a different but good dessert alternative)



It doesn't have to be hard--just presented right. Most menus have healthy foods that are plain. Jazz it up.

A piece of grilled salmon or grilled rockfish with a papaya, red pepper, cilantro salsa (a chili could do well). Couscous (cooked in a flavoured liquid) and a pile of garlicky greens.

to go back to the chicken idea; here's a jazzed up basic - rotisserie or roasted chicken with reduced raspberry vinegar, grilled polenta and a wonderful green veg

Gingered Snapper - saute snapper dusted w/ cornstarch and ginger. Saute ginger, scallion, shallot; add defatted chicken stock; reduce by half. Serve with a neat grain or on a bed of greens

pan seared pork chop with apple-thyme relish

reductions, glazes make foods seem more special and exciting.

lentil salads as a side...

cioppini, bouillabaise, mussels provencal

desserts - berries, fruit soups, meringues

I'll post some more ideas tomorrow-

Joined Aug 11, 2000
I've been cooking like that for years.... my private clients all want a lighter, fresh, healthy diet.

Just watching the amounts of fat, or adding a knob of butter at the end of a sauce to round it out.

Gumbo with baked flour thickener is good.
herbs, garlic, wine, citrus all add loads of flavor
Full flavor and less meat....smoked turkey barley chili
Mushroom stroganoff
Marinara the calamata olives
Just adding more veg. grains, beans to a stew or dish and cutting back on meats.
Joined Sep 25, 2000
I have added to my topic. these are very good points you all are coming up with. Most menus indeed are coming to a complete halt when understanding the importences of nutrition and healthy living to attract clients/customers. In saying "customer", we are talking about the customs of a cunsumer. This means we should be able to attract people to our businesses by inticing them with healthier ways of eating their customary foods.
Joined Oct 17, 2000
A few years back I was working with Gale Gand and she came up with an incredible no fat dessert. It was called "Mosaic". It consisted of a gelatinized, sweetened zinfindel, poured into a shallow pasta bowl. It also had a variety of cut up fresh fruit in it, At service, we garnished it with candied citrus peel. It was 5 star, but didnt sell. At this upscale restaurant, the customers didnt want healthy choices. I now work(and have for several years)in retirement communities. One that I recently opened, had a terrific anti aging concept. The ideas revolved around lifestyle changes, including exercise, and relaxation technics. A big part of their concept dealt with diet. Our opening culinary team spent many weeks studying healthy diets.We used only the freshest vegetables,and fruits. made sauces from purees, for the most nutrition. I in fact lost almost 20 lbs. However, after only a few days of nutritional menus, most of the customers wanted bacon and eggs or mashed potatoes with gravy etc. I found it interesting the parallels to the customers at an upscale restaurant and a retirement community. I feel we as chefs have a long way to go to train the customer.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
What I've noticed is that there is a group of usually higher positioned executives that are very health conscious. They work out daily, they eat lighter and healthier, they know food....
I've done some dinners for an older crowd recently late sixties-mid seventies where they had 5-6 scotches pre and during dinner.
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Palmier and shroom,

You both make great points.
Where I work I feed the top brass from some of the most prestigus companies in the country.For most part the upper level Execs do work out and eat very well (healthy)I have to tailor my menus daily to the clientele thats in house. Some people I think will always have a meat and potato life style,but also being less than an hour from NY city the clientele are pretty educated on good food and service. I think we need to keep on trying new things that make sence and listen to our custamers and our service staff as far as feedback is concerned.Palmier I like that Zin dessert you described :)
Joined Sep 25, 2000

very good of you to share that with us. If there is one thing that I don't like about cooking for the elderly, it is that their very picky of what they eat. Most of them do the diet "health craze" for their doctors or childerns' sake. But their food habits and food acceptences are learned, acquired, and finally become a part of the self. They become a very strong form of individual expression. Several influences start acting on food preferences at birth and continue to operate throughout life.

I remember this old actor (resently past),who would come all the way to the studios to eat at the commesary every morning and go back home after talking to his friends around the lot. Now, that my friends is aquiered. He spent most of his life at that lot. Never once was he late or in a hurry.

[ March 10, 2001: Message edited by: Chef David Simpson ]
Joined Apr 19, 2001
How do you get around presenting healthy food to consumers whose knowledge of what constitutes 'healthy' is inaccurate?

For instance, at the cooking classes I assist with, when the instructor puts even a tablespoon of butter into a gallon pot of soup, there are gasps from the attendees! Or when salt is put into a huge pot of water for pasta or potato cooking, there are collective grimaces - one time, a student refused to eat the pasta! Or when the instructor does prepare an over-the-top dish for a special occasion, it seems the students think they'll be eating it every day!

On the other hand, two classes do bring smiles to my face - in one class, the chef made homemade potato chips with lard - when going over the recipe, of course the reaction was - gasp!!!
But - and this was a participation class , so the students were all over the kitchen - as the potato chips came out of the lard to drain, everyone who passed by helped themselves! We had to hide the final batch so we'd have enough for the end of class buffet! And the other class was a dish made of two duck confits - one from D'artagnian, and one chef-made. Everyone saw the chef prepare his with the container of duck fat - yet we had to pass around extra sample dishes of the confit, because they wanted more!!! Go figure!!!

Is it the 'diet coke and a donut' mentality?!!!!!:rolleyes:
Joined Feb 6, 2002
Since I work in our family diner and our customers are older folk..I know just how PICKY they can get. So I came up with a plan. What if I changed the way the dishes in the diner are created. Same name just healthier prep. Im sure that is possible.

And yes we get a lot of the diet coke and cheesecake crowd. I might have a problem with portion control. These people get upset if you seem to skimp on the food. But I plan to kinda add the words of what is already there so they think " I get all that for this! What a deal" You know trick em into eating healthy.

Think this will work?

Joined Jan 26, 2001
My last two classes at Kings Cooking studios were sold out and I prepare healthier alternatives to some traditional foods:

key lime pie - lower sugar (whole organic unprocessed cane)
low fat (2 tbsp earth balance) no eggs or dairy

This was such a big hit people were asking for seconds

Roasted portobella sandwich with tofu mayo and capers
much lower fat than real mayo - no eggs and a small amount of extra virgin olive oil

Creamy corn miso soup - non-dairy and low fat

Most of my cooking is non-dairy, natural and low fat.

I always explain why salt is needed in cooking and about the importance of fats in the diet as well as the integrity of certain dishes. Most dishes need some fat especially if they will be frozen like a lot of the meals I prepare for clients.

Diet Coke? Possibly the worst thing you could ever put in your body. Aspartame was never intended to be used in products for mass consumption. If it was to come out today it would never be approved. The heat (98.6 degrees) of the human body alters the chemical composition of the aspartame to create toxic conditions in the body.
Top Bottom