How Restaurants Trick You To Spend and Eat More

Dining out on days when you want to eat something special, eating in restaurants might sound like a good option. However, there are ways wherein things like menu psychology can play a big role in making you spend more or eat more in restaurants. If you’re very portion conscious at home and you don’t want to overeat, we’ve come up with a simple list that can help you regulate your eating and spending.

All The Zeros

Even if it’s just removing the extra 0’s on the menu prices, it really makes a difference in how we perceive spending in restaurants. From $13.00 to $13, the menu has its magic on us. The less we think that there’s so much 0’s that’s going to cost us, (regardless of the REAL amount) it’s bound to make us feel like we’re spending less even though we’re not. It’s not just zeros, too. Did you notice that some items would have .99 cents in them to make them look like they’re cheaper? Some would even go for .89 to make that illusion. Others would even remove the $ sign to make us not think of the fact that we’re spending $$$’s.

How Restaurants Trick You To Spend and Eat More

Colors For The Hungry

Most of you probably know this already, but colors like red, orange and yellow are proven to make you feel hungrier. (McDonald’s and KFC? We know what you’re doing.) The more we feel hungry, the more we’re likely to eat more. However, not all restaurants use this to urge you to eat, so it’s better to just stay away from those restaurants that have warm colors in their interior. Cooler hues like blue, green and purple can do the opposite and suppress your hunger instead.

How Restaurants Trick You To Spend and Eat More

Pricey or Bargain?

Just in case you didn’t notice, the priciest dishes are located at the top of the menu, in order to make the rest look like a bargain. Even with two expensive dishes next to each other that only has a few dollar differences, you’re likely to assume that the other is cheaper and is a better deal, even though it’s not! Keep in mind that they also keep their portion sizes vague. Remember the well-known advertising trick about food photography: Menu photos look really appetizing and bigger in portions than the actual. Everything looks so chunky and well-plated. If that’s not enough to trick you; half-sizes are more expensive than the full-size because of the small portion size you’re getting, compared to what it’s worth. Unless you’ve been dining there repeatedly, then they’re purposely leaving you clueless about how much food you’re actually ordering, causing you to overeat. Also, take note that menu engineers (Yes, they do exist!) also put the dishes they want you to order the most in the mid and upper right corner of the menu. It’s not always because they’re the best choice.

How Restaurants Trick You To Spend and Eat More

Alcoholic Beverages

Skip this. Alcohol can temporarily impair your body’s ability to feel full. In short, it will make you feel hungrier and you’ll end up ordering more. Plus, the alcoholic beverages aren’t free, so you’re up for an obvious bill hike whenever you’ll accept everytime the waiter keeps the drinks coming. And one more thing, people are likely to purchase the second least expensive wine, instead of the least expensive wine to avoid looking cheap. The problem is, the second least expensive wine is usually priced higher than it’s worth!

How Restaurants Trick You To Spend and Eat More


For more psychological ways on how restaurants trick you to spending and eating more, here’s a video link:

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  • Honey Smith says:

    Interesting topic. I can’t believe that we actually get tricked with this.

  • Lusi Martin says:

    The menu psychology is so true. It does look cheaper whenever they would put it next to something that’s so expensive.

  • Ofelia Ruley says:

    My husband and I love eating in restaurants and I do see these things being applied for real. It’s insane but it’s effective, unfortunately.

  • Eloise Ferris says:

    I usually get tricked by the portion sizes. We sometimes end up ordering more because the full size looks to big, only to end up with something small.

    • Deanna Woods says:

      This has happened to us so many times too. They even say it’s for 2-3 people only to find out that it’s like a spooonful for each person. Upsetting!

  • Karen Abeyta says:

    I haven’t really thought of colors influencing my hunger. I mean, I come to a restaurant possibly hungry, so how do I stop being hungrier? Hahaha!?

  • Zoraida Martin says:

    Surprisingly, the one that really works well here is the menu trick. Although I never really scrimp with food. Whenever I decide to eat in restaurants, I already know I have a budget to spend. So whatever it is that I want in the menu, regardless of the tricks it has, I don’t let it influence my choice. More or less, we usually dine in a restaurant that we have something to eat in mind already, right? That’s how it is for me and my friends. So I’m not sure how it works for others.

  • If you’re hungry and you walk into a restaurant, it’s like waiters can sense them. They rush you into ordering! Then your ego kicks in and you don’t want to look like you ordered the least expensive meal. You can almost see through their gazes, they’re judging you.?

  • Doreen Morales says:

    Whoa, the portion sizes are probably the main culprit here. The photos don’t do them justice!

  • The cool interior colors usually make you feel calm. So it makes you feel like it’s okay to take your time while eating your food. While the warm colored ones do the opposite. It’s like urging you to finish up quickly, making you feel less full.

    • Hmm.. So that’s how it works. I used to see this color psychology with the plates you should be using to reduce hunger.

  • Even if I don’t want to end up eating and spending more, I think the purpose of these tricks is to trick you psychologically. So whether you like it or not, you’re screwed.

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