Dining out has been a customary means of celebrating for decades. The luxury of leaving your home to eat delicious food prepared by someone else has long been a novelty. Even in today’s society where the average American eats out 4-5 times per week, avoiding food prep and cooking is still a luxury for many people. But does all of that eating out cause you to gain more weight, not just in calories, but by increasing the amount you consume? Included here are a few ways restaurant design boosts your appetite.
It widely known among psychologists that color has a marked effect on the psyche. Colors like red, orange or yellow can boost your appetite and keep you hungry longer. Many fast food chains use this to their advantage by painting their restaurants in these bright colors to keep you eating.
Another way they may use this color is by decorating in red paintings or photographs, or with images that depict people eating. People are more likely to consume calories when they see a person they view as attractive, eating. For example, ads for beer commercials typically depict attractive, young people having a great time and drinking beer. The same technique is used in photos in restaurants to encourage you to eat more and “have a good time.”
By designing restaurants that have a bar forefront, restaurant owners can encourage customers to have a drink before sitting down to eat. Alcohol is scientifically proven to boost your appetite if you drink just before a meal. This creates a double whammy of revenue for the restaurant, they make more money off of your larger meal and they can increase your bill with the booze cost.
Recent studies have shown that restaurants use bright lighting to encourage you to eat more. Some experts believe this happens because the bright lights and colors, from the neon lighting in the vicinity (more info here) or from the overhead chandeliers put you into a survival mode, where you feel you need to eat more to survive. This is purely subconscious, but regardless, your body responds to the environmental cues. So, if you are thinking about opening a bar or restaurant space yourself in the future, be sure to focus on the lighting as this could have more of an impact than you initially may think.
While the sound of a restaurant is not technically “design,” it does play into how the atmosphere feels to you. Noisy, stressful restaurants can cause you to eat more because they put you in a more stressed, survival mode. You may be more likely to eat fast and hurry out of there if it is unpleasant, which gives your food less time to settle appropriately.
Restaurants with dim lighting often allow patrons to linger longer and enjoy their meal, which equates to eating slowly and consuming less. The desire to linger longer may encourage you to drink a few more alcoholic beverages, so be careful you are not overindulging in that department.