Gen Z and Millenials struggle with ‘menu anxiety.’ Here’s what it is and how to beat it.
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As Gen Z and Millenials rapidly enter into the working world, many of us are starting to experience something no one ever taught us in school: menu anxiety. We’re facing overwhelming decisions at restaurants, diners, and cafes with no guidance or prior experience. It’s a daily challenge we often feel ill-equipped to handle, but understanding and managing menu anxiety can help us all have a better dining experience. Read on to learn what menu anxiety is, why it may be happening, and how we can beat it.
Gen Z and Millenials struggle with 'menu anxiety.' Here’s what it is and how to beat it.

Table of Contents

1. What is ‘Menu Anxiety’?

Menu anxiety, also known as diner’s dilemma, is a common phenomenon experienced by people when choosing what to eat at restaurants and other places with extensive menus. This mental phenomenon is different than food anxiety, which is an irrational fear of food.

Causes of Menu Anxiety

  • Modern restaurants cram their menus full of seemingly endless options that can be overwhelming.
  • Choosing the wrong dish can lead to buyer’s remorse.
  • People can feel pressure to choose something that looks or tastes “fancy”.

Menu anxiety is a real condition experienced by many people, especially those who don’t like to take risks. After all, when someone spends their hard-earned money on dinner, they want to make sure they get something they’ll enjoy. But with so many options, the possibilities are almost overwhelming.

1. What is 'Menu Anxiety'?

2. The Impact of Menu Anxiety on Gen Z and Millenials

Menu anxiety is a real issue meriting attention, knocking back the confidence of Gen Z and Millenials as its effects ripple through the generations. In a world of obscure terminology, jargon, and sophisticated food items, it can be difficult to pick an entree.

Uncertainty and Overwhelm

  • The restaurant menu can be extremely overwhelming, leading to feelings of uncertainty and second-guessing which can leave the diner feeling stressed out.
  • Making decisions can be hard for beginners, and the pressure-of-choice can be paralyzing.

Aversion to Trying New Things

  • The complexity of dishes can lead to a strong aversion to trying new things.
  • This unwillingness to step outside of the comfort zone can hold back both personal growth and creative exploration.

Focus on Other Options

  • When presented with a mammoth menu, those affected by menu anxiety may become fixated on the few dishes they are familiar with.
  • The hundreds of unexplored items on the menu forgettable as the diner searches for the only options they can comfortably stomach.

3. Strategies to Overcome Menu Anxiety

Menu anxiety can be quite intimidating, but with a few simple strategies in your pocket, the next time you walk into a restaurant can be a piece of cake. Here are three suggestions for easing out your menu anxiety.

  • Talk to the expert: Your server or the chef will always be able to offer recommendations and insights into the menu. Ask the server to explain the menu and what ingredients go into each of the dishes. It’s a great way to get the hang of a menu in an unfamiliar restaurant!
  • Don’t be a wallflower: Don’t shy away from perusing the menu fully. It’s important to take your time to read the menu entires and really understand what is being offered. Try to develop an understanding about the sweet, savoury, spicy and tangy dishes.
  • Order something familiar: Friends and family dinners can often be nerve racking. If you have absolutely no idea what to order, go with something you know. It’s a good way to get more familiar without having to risk a nasty surprise.

Menu anxiety is completely and totally normal. Don’t let it get the best of you and remember these three tips the next time you are faced with a menu that gives you goosebumps.

4. Reaping the Benefits of Clearing Up Menu Anxiety

Eliminating menu anxiety has countless benefits. From improved performance to better customer satisfaction, the advantages of this technique are plentiful.

For starters, clearing up menu anxiety helps servers better understand the menu, leading to better decision-making. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the choices on the menu, servers can concentrate on providing a quality customer experience. Knowing the menu allows them to answer questions quickly and accurately. This, in turn, makes customers more confident in the dining experience.

Another way servers can reap the rewards of menu anxiety relief is through lower turnover rates and increased sales. With a better understanding of the menu, they can refer customers to more profitable dishes. This helps add to the restaurant’s bottom line. Additionally, servers who understand the menu are more likely to remain in their jobs for longer periods of time, making them invaluable members of the team.

  • Improved performance
  • Better customer satisfaction
  • Faster decision-making
  • Higher customer confidence
  • Increased sales
  • Lower turnover rates


Q: What is menu anxiety?
A: Menu anxiety is the feeling of overwhelm when faced with too many options on a menu. It affects both Gen Z and millennials, although Gen Z seem to be particularly affected.

Q: What causes menu anxiety?
A: Menu anxiety is caused by factors like an enlarged selection on menus, fear of missing out on the “perfect” dish, and wanting to save money.

Q: How can Gen Z and millennials combat menu anxiety?
A: They can start by narrowing down their options. Before taking a look at the menu, consider what mood you’re in and what types of food you’d like to try. Limiting choices to a few dishes can help take away some of the stress. Additionally, restaurant-goers can look for places with daily specials or set menus which make the decision easier.

The effects of ‘menu anxiety’ are real, and can have a huge impact on the dining out experience. Though it might take a little bit of creativity, there are plenty of helpful tips to help Gen Z and Millenials battle ‘menu anxiety.’ With the right attitude, even the most daunting dining out experience can become an enjoyable and satisfying experience.

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