How can restaurants make healthy eating appealing?

August 11 2014

While healthy eating has certainly become more of an issue recently as consumers realize its benefits to their wellbeing, it is still a contentious subject as obesity levels are soaring across the globe.

Food in Canada highlights how individuals still aren't consuming enough fruit and vegetables, which emphasizes how important it is for restaurateurs to ensure they are providing a good range of nutritional and tasty dishes for diners.

Women need to eat seven to eight portions a day, while men should consume between eight and ten. However, the figures show women tend to average 4.3 while men are significantly lower on just 3.5 on a daily basis, according to research from the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA).

Founder of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa Dr Yoni Freedhoff is quoted as saying: "Regular home-cooking from fresh, whole ingredients, including fruit and vegetables, has become much less common. We have been taught that restaurants and boxes can provide us with the health and nutrients we need. So that's where we look because it is now normal to believe it’s possible to do so."

While it is important that individuals rediscover healthy home-cooking, this stresses the importance of well-balanced meals being not only available in restaurants, but also marketed sufficiently to encourage consumers to opt for them. 

Potential ways of doing this could include highlighting the calorie counts or number of portions of fruit and vegetables to enhance the dishes' appeal as patrons decide what to order. Additionally, posting appetizing pictures of these meals on social media pages or on the menu itself could help them to gain further traction. 

An initiative launched earlier this year by the CPMA called 'Half Your Plate' is designed as a way of encouraging the public to meet their daily intake of fruit and vegetables. 

Director of Market Development Sue Lewis said: "Rather than people counting servings or worrying about serving size, our premise is that at every meal, make half your plate fruit and vegetables. By the end of the day, you’ll have your recommended number of servings."

One issue that could explain why individuals are not meeting their daily quotas of fruit and vegetables is that when they go out to eat, they deem it as a special occasion and do not necessarily want a healthy dish.

This could especially be the case in light of the recent economic turbulence that means consumers have less money to spend. So, when they do choose to dine out, it is a treat and therefore a vegetable-laden dish may not be top of the priority list.

The onus on restaurateurs is to make such dishes as tasty and flavoursome as possible, as these tend to be key selling factors. Innovative ways of combining healthy ingredients in appetizing meals is encouraged as patrons often like to try something different when they're out, especially something they wouldn't normally make themselves at home. 

In addition, doing everything possible to ensure healthy dishes are reasonably priced can help operators to bolster the appeal of these menu options.