Are you getting a ton of salad orders at your restaurant? Eating in moderation—both at home and when dining out—is one of the biggest keys to weight management. When combined with exercise, you have a real recipe for success in a healthy lifestyle, and healthier menu options are a major trend in the restaurant industry today.

That’s why we were intrigued by a recent study published in the American Journal of Consumer Research. Entitled “The Effect of Preference Expression Modality on Self-Control,” the study looks at how methods of ordering from menus influence the healthiness of food selections. Variations during the study’s research included giving a menu selection orally, writing down a selection, and pressing a button to order a food item.

The overwhelming verdict is in: Method matters for ordering.

Across various settings—including a restaurant, vending machine, and classroom—the researchers found the same result. When food selections were made manually, either by writing or button-pushing, participants were likelier to choose the healthier, lower-calorie option. For example, during dinner service at a Greek restaurant in Cologne, Germany, diners were given a choice between two complementary desserts: an indulgent chocolate skewer or a healthy fruit skewer. When they indicated their preference by pressing a button, they were likelier to order the fruit. But when speaking to waitstaff, more people chose the chocolate version. 

Are you surprised by these findings? The study authors—who hail from Tilburg University and Maastricht University in The Netherlands as well as Stanford University in the United States—were not. Based on previous neuroscientific research, they had predicted that speaking is less likely to evoke self-control than motor movements. That’s because motor movements activate a different region of the brain, one that is more capable of overriding impulses. In other words, using one’s hand to place an order seems to trigger the brain to weigh long-term goals. The result is that unhealthy urges are regulated. 

Clearly, this groundbreaking study has important implications for restaurateurs, not to mention a few ethical ones. Namely, you can affect consumer choice—and even increase self-control—simply based on the method of ordering. So maybe the question to ask yourself is this: How does the health of your customers fit into your restaurant philosophy? If it is a big part of your mission to give healthy options to your customers, this research is going to take your restaurant far.

Read more about restaurants and iPads here.

Ethically Giving Better Options to Customers

If your restaurant has a vision of giving customers healthier options for dining, using tablets for placing an order gives the customer more control. There are some simple tricks you can use to make ordering selections for special diets a breeze.

Your business will stand out in the crowd by offering healthy options that keep your community safe. Show what you stand for by making your menu options clear and labeling nutritional value.

Color Coding Menu Options by Nutritional Value

Try including a key on the main menu page to show patrons what each color symbol means based on their dietary needs.

  •   Vegetarian Options

o   relating to the exclusion of meat or other animal products from the diet

  •   Vegan Options

o   using or containing no animal products

  •   Gluten-Free Options

o   not containing gluten

  •   Ketogenic Diets

o   a low-carb diet (like the Atkins diet)

  •   Paleo Diets

o   This is derived from the word Paleolithic and is tied to food cavemen would have eaten

  •   Diabetic-Safe and sugar-free options

o   Diabetic options for desserts are a must-have on any restaurant menu

  •   Including Nutrition Information in the Menu

For patrons with special dietary needs that may not fit into one of the above categories, it is important to have all nutrition information listed so they can make the best choices for themselves. Adding all ingredients used to the information helps keep customers with allergies or other concerns safe while building trust with restaurant patrons.

Grouping Items Based on Dietary Needs

Much like using different colors to code options, using sectioning within a digital ordering system can help regulate choices for customers as well. Giving the option only to see vegan choices can help keep a patron who is strictly vegan from ordering something made with an incidental animal byproduct that shows on a vegetarian option.

Link Between Visual Cues and Making Healthy Choices

Studies have linked speaking with being more impulsive and indulgent in choices. The correlation here is related to the promptness of needing to get your order in without putting much thought into your choices because someone is waiting for you to place your order. Typically when speaking an order, you are looking at a physical menu that will often have less information than a digital menu can provide.

By having the time to consider all the options, you are allowed to peruse a menu and view nutritional information and make healthier choices.

Digital Menu boards from Lavu

We offer digital menu boards that sync with ordering through an iPad and foster convenience and efficiency for your restaurant. Make iPad ordering for your restaurant patrons as straightforward as possible by taking advantage of these added benefits.

  •       Options for rotating menus with the push of a button (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  •       A library of templates for a seamless display at no additional charge
  •       Video background templates, or upload your own video backgrounds
  •       Editable without the use of a PC, directly from the tablet by management
  •       Offline capabilities that work within network – keep orders coming in all the while averting a crisis when the internet goes down.

Learn more about digital menu boards here.

Ipad Ordering Made Easy

Not only will allowing customers to use an iPad for ordering help them make healthier choices than by giving their orders verbally, but it will also reduce the burden on your restaurant. Check out these benefits of iPad ordering.

Automated Ticketing

When customers use a tablet for ordering a ticket can be sent directly to the kitchen staff. You have the flexibility to choose if you want a printed ticket or to use a digital screen to track orders.

Reduced Labor Costs

With customers able to place their orders on their own or with minimal assistance, the labor needed will be reduced. You can run your foodservice establishment with fewer employees on staff and still serve the needs of all your customers.

Better Tracking of Inventory

By using a tablet for ordering through Lavu, you will get the added benefit of inventory tracking across all devices and get assistance with reordering through our top-notch integrations. Through using automated inventory tracking you can save time and resources by cutting waste.

Reduced Margin of Error

When an order is spoken aloud, written down by a waitress, walked to a terminal, keyed in, and then sent to the kitchen, there are many opportunities for error to enter the equation. By having patrons enter their order and it then being sent directly to the kitchen, the margin of error is reduced greatly. This effect will, in turn, make for happier customers, better reviews, and fewer remakes of meals.  

Make the most of every customer interaction and give them the peace of mind of having healthy choices by checking out our digital POS options