How Some Pictures of Food Can Reduce Appetites

So it turns out that when you invest in photos of your food for your menu, you may not only be helping to drive sales of your most photogenic dishes, but you may also be helping some of your customers lose weight.

Carnegie Case Study Reveals Surprising Results about Food Photography

A new study at Carnegie Mellon University has concluded that if people simply look at pictures of food, imagine what it tastes like and how it smells, it actually helps you to curb your appetite. In other words, it’s the exact opposite of what we all assumed until now – that imagining what the food is and how it looks only whets your appetite.

Now before you start wondering about why your customers don’t just look at the pictures, get satisfied and walk out, it turns out that there’s one hitch – in order for the pictures to work when they see them, the people who see them have to also actually imagine eating the food.

Case Study on Psychological Eating Results

The study was broken down into five parts. In the first part, 51 people were told that they should imagine 33 different actions that they do repetitively, each of them one by one. Then, they asked a control group to imagine they were busy popping 33 quarters into a coin operating washing machine. Still another group was told to imagine putting 30 quarters into a washing machine and then eating 3 M&M candies. Another group did the reverse, imagining eating 30 M&Ms and then putting three quarters into a washing machine.

Once that was done, the groups were offered a bowl of actual M&Ms to eat. The ones who had imagined having eaten 30 M&M candies actually ate fewer than the other groups.

Now bottom line, it’s really more a curiosity for us as restaurateurs than an actually important piece of information. However, if you happen to see a customer come in and ask to see and hold a picture of a large order of fries, hold it for a few minutes and then order small fries, you’ll know what happened.

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