The 3 Week Diet

Restaurants, Fast Food Chains: More Nutrition Facts, More Specialty Menus

Here is a welcome trend. According to the L.A. Times, major restaurant chains and fat food chains are offering more nutrition facts on their menus as well as offering a wider variety of items to cater to people with special dietary needs including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and Kosher. The trend is driven by customer demand and at the same time gives restaurants a competitive edge with their willingness to cater to specific populations.

The article quotes Chris Weiss, a vice president at the nonprofit Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network who addresses the trend, saying, “If you can demonstrate to families that you can offer them a safe meal, you establish a tremendous sense of loyalty and create repeat customers…As we look to the future, we’ll definitely see more restaurants doing this.”

nutrition facts

While we’ve long had diet menus at some of the major restaurant chains, often introduced with great fanfare as in the case of Cheesecake Factory’s Skinnylicious menu, the chances of finding a special menu to cater to your needs whether based on religious practices, as in Kosher for Jews or halal for Muslims, and or vegan and vegetarian for health and ethical concerns is growing. The article goes on to note that companies are also attempting to be proactive:

Many customers, shaken by recent disclosures about food preparation, are clamoring for more specific information on signs and menus.

After non-pork eaters complained this summer, for instance, Chipotle started redesigning its menu boards to say that bacon is used in its pinto beans. Panda Express, accused in a lawsuit of using chicken powder in meat-free dishes, now has posters in all its stores explaining that none of its offerings is vegetarian.

Analysts said consumers over the next year will probably see a spurt in diet-sensitive menus and signs as companies try to attract vegetarians and others with diet limitations — a population often perceived as having more discretionary income to spend.

“It’s not that they’re benevolent companies; it’s that they feel that they can drive traffic by giving out more detailed information,” said analyst Nick Setyan at Wedbush Securities Inc. “It’s a way to market themselves and differentiate themselves from the competition.”

Check out the full article at L.A. Times

Great news. I hope this trend continues. There is nothing more bewildering than going to a restaurant and being uncertain of whether or not you’re avoiding ingredients that you are allergic to — especially if you may risk a severe or life-threatening reaction to that ingredient. It’s no easier for dieters trying to play food detective to avoid sabotaging the diet with the hidden calories — a la Eat This, Not That — that may be lurking in the form of fats and added sugars just because you want to enjoy a dinner out with family or friends. Over the years, I’ve experienced firsthand what it’s like when I have one idea of, for instance, what “no oil or fat” means and the kitchen has yet another idea!

Skinny Bliss readers, let us know if you have found restaurants that were accommodating of your dietary choices.

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