Richard H. Thaler, the father of the ‘nudge theory’, was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics 2017 for his research within behavioral economics. We have been applying Thaler’s method of nudging to encourage healthy and sustainable choices in our restaurants for some time. Happy to share our best green nudges for a healthier and more sustainable Christmas buffet table.

Professor Richard H. Thaler is awarded the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work within behavioral economics, and above all for the Nudging theory.

Nudging is a concept that encourages people to make more sustainable choices that are in their broad self-interest.

It’s not about penalizing people if they don’t act in certain way. It’s about making it easier for them to make a decision which will have positive impact, for instance, on their health.

We were one of the first restaurant operators in the Nordics to implement what we call green nudging in our restaurants.

- We know from experience that green nudging has a major impact on people’s decision making. We have reduced the proportion of meat by about 20 percent in our restaurants by serving vegetables and vegetarian options at the beginning of the buffet table, says Jonny Zackrisson, Quality and Environment Manager at Fazer Food Services, Sweden.

Nudges help us self-control
Thaler believes that we often fall for short-term temptations and easily abandon our long-term intention. In his research, Thaler shows how ‘nudges’ – a term introduced by Thaler himself – can help people improve self-control.

A small push with a big impact on our sustainability work
At our restaurants we use five different nudges that increase the proportion of vegetables and reduce meat on the plates – an important part of the company's environmental goals.

Nudges to help guests make healthy and sustainable decisions include preparation, placement, sequence, signage and portioning. You can easily try this method on your Christmas buffet table at home.

5 green nudges for a sustainable Christmas buffet

1. Fruits and nuts on arrival
- Offer your guests healthy snacks when arriving. What your guests see, think and feel right after they step through the door will affect what they are eating.

2. Roasted swede in focus
- Make sure the roasted swede, the herring and the vegetables are visibly placed in the kitchen. Guests tend to take more of the food that is visible and easily accessible.

3. Start vegetarian
- Place vegetarian and green options at the beginning of the buffet, finish with the meat. Guests take more of the dishes they first see.

4. Write signs
- Write smart signs that show what food is healthy for the guests, such as "Chef's recommendations" or "Smart choices".

5. Portion the food
- By serving the food in portions you will help guests eat less. Start by serving smaller portions, and invite the guests to have another portion if they are still hungry. Portioning is a good way to reduce food waste.