Are the Healthier Choices on Your Menu Really Healthy?
Most people can relate to starting a new fitness regimen or diet with positive expectations only to be told by a friend “oh my, that’s the worst thing you can do!” If you have two doctors even they may disagree on what’s healthy and what’s not healthy. When consumers go out to eat they look at choices on the menu that have calorie counts or other information that will help them eat according to their particular needs and goals, but often the information is not entirely accurate. What to do?
Defining the word “healthy” is even a debatable issue because everyone has their own idea. Some consumers have interpreted “healthy” to mean made or grown without toxic chemicals. Others defined it as naturally growing in the world and minimally processed by humans before being sold. Some even suggested that healthy means absolutely no preservatives of any kind, while others simply think of it as low fat, low salt, or low sugar — or some combination of the above.
People today are running around with digital watches that count calories burned so they’ll want to know how many calories they eat so they can make them go away as soon as possible!
The terminology used by restaurants can be confusing. For example, if a restaurant labels some items “healthy” and the other items are not labeled, does that mean they are “unhealthy?” If a restaurant labels some items “healthier” than one may wonder “healthier than what?” Healthier than a jelly doughnut wrapped in bacon?
Labeling foods as “vegan” is tricky business because that means there must be no animal products used at all in the preparation of the meal. No butter, animal fat, nothing. And claims of “gluten-free” carry the same responsibility. Dropping the ball on one of these statements can bring retribution in the form of really nasty reviews online claiming you’re dishonest.
So, what’s the solution? Unless your restaurant is part of a large chain that has the resources to have food laboratory tested, you may serve your customer’s concerns by describing your cooking methods. People concerned about health usually like terms like “steamed, grilled, or baked” rather than “fried”. You may offer diners the option to have an entree prepared with “no added sugar” or “no added salt” rather than claim “salt-free” or “sugar-free” on the menu. Almost everything has some trace of salt or sugar before you even prepare it.
It’s important to have a discussion with your loyal customers and ask them if they have questions about the food they’re paying for and how it is prepared. People fell good when they know the restaurant they trust to feed them really cares about the food they serve.