Bridget Sandorford is a freelance writer and researcher for CulinarySchools.org. She contacted me to write a guest post and I happily accepted. I asked Bridget to share about healthy eating trends in restaurants drawing from her culinary expertise. Thank you Bridget!!
Restaurant meals aren’t known for being health food. Most restaurant meals are two or three times the proper portion size and are loaded with extra fat, sugar, and salt to make the food taste good and stay fresh. However, with a growing focus on healthier eating, many restaurants have adapted to the demands of the marketplace and are starting to give their menus a healthy makeover.
Here are just a few of the healthy eating trends in restaurant menus you may have already begun to notice:
Lighter Fare Options
Many restaurants have begun to offer their health-conscious consumers more options for lighter fare. This can include smaller portions of popular dishes or lower-fat or lower-calorie versions of those dishes. For example, you might be able to order that pasta alfredo in a half-portion, or simply order a version that’s made with half the fat.
Look for these options under a special section for healthier fare in menus at the restaurants that offer them.
More Natural, Local Ingredients
The local food movement is growing, and the restaurant industry is responding. More and more restaurants are sourcing their ingredients from local farmers, and they are advertising the practice on their menus. There is also a greater focus on using organic ingredients and on eliminating additives and other artificial ingredients from recipes.
Recognition of Food Allergies
Gluten intolerance has gotten a lot of press in the last few years, and more and more restaurants are now either offering more dishes that are gluten-free or are making note of the dishes on the menu that are naturally gluten-free. Other common allergens are beginning to get similar treatment, including allergies or sensitivities to dairy, eggs, shellfish and peanuts.
More “Healthy” Indicators
As many television shows have pointed out again and again, a dish that seems healthy may actually be hiding a lot of calories and fat. There have been countless stories of a popular salad that has more fat and calories than the steak dinner. To help you quickly understand which options are the healthiest on the menu, many restaurants are now including small pictures indicators next to the items, such as a “GF” for gluten-free or a leaf for vegetarian. Other symbols may also denote heart-healthy or low-fat option.
More Nutritional Information
Some restaurants have gone so far as to list the nutritional content right on the menu, including counts for calories, carbohydrates, fat and more. Even fast-food restaurants are getting in on the practice. While it may discourage you from ordering that giant pasta dish or the heaping slice of cheesecake, it will help you to make healthier choices and to only splurge when you intend to (not because you didn’t realize what you were putting into your body).
The healthy trends in restaurant menus are a reflection of a move toward greater health across our society. As we become better informed about the food choices we make and how they affect us, we can start improving our health and the quality of our lives.
What other healthy trends would you like to see reflected on restaurant menus? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance writer and researcher for Culinaryschools.org, where recently she’s been researching garde mangers. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.