Healthy Customers are Happy Customers
"At least you still have your health" is how the old saying goes, and it's as true today as it ever was. Your health and wellbeing is the foundation of a happy life, and you can make a real positive impact on yourself and those around you. This applies whether you're serving up wholesome and nutritious food, educating customers about a balanced diet or making sure to look after yourself working in the, often busy, foodservice industry.
STEPS TO HEALTHY EATING AND THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD NUTRITION
We all know the essential steps; start the day with a healthy breakfast, eat lots of fresh vegetables and foods containing fibre, nutrients and vitamins. Ensure your body gets enough of the protein and other micro/macronutrients that it requires to function.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that the use of dietary supplements was not associated with health benefits. At the same time, nutrients from foods appeared to reduce the risk of mortality.
There's plenty of information on NHS guidelines for a healthier and balanced diet here.
WHAT CATERERS CAN DO TO PROMOTE HEALTHIER LIFESTYLES FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS
Caterers from across the foodservice industry can do the following:
Make small changes to menus to reduce salt/sugar content
As we know from various studies and news reports, it is important to keep sugar and salt consumption to a minimum and within the daily guidelines. Simple things like using unsalted butter or sourcing ingredients with no added sugar can make food healthier.
Create more recipes for vegans and vegetarians
As more people are switching to vegan and vegetarian diets, it is essential to stay ahead of the demand for more exciting and desirable food creations.
According to a study, almost 12 million Brits (22%) say they will follow a vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian diet with the numbers set to increase year on year. The study continues to say – the diet that will have the most recruits as 2.2 million intend to take up this lifestyle. This would see the total number of vegans increased by a remarkable 327%, to a total of 2.9 million people.
Vegetarianism remains the most popular of the major diets. It already has 3.6 million followers and an additional 1.5 million people are looking to ditch the steak in favour of greener pastures bringing the total vegetarian population up to 5.2 million.
Caterers must continue to develop recipes that cater to all customer groups and in turn, attract more business. Gone are the days when vegans or vegetarians will settle for basic/bland dishes provided as an afterthought to the menu.
Caterers can gain and retain customer loyalty by providing healthy, tasty and nutritious dishes. By reviewing and improving menus, they will reap the rewards of new and repeat business.
Add nutritional value to dishes with healthier ingredients.
Simply adding some extra ingredients, almost by way of a fortification process, caterers can add foods that are high in nutritional values and help spruce up a recipe.
Using more vegetables such as spinach and kale that are high in folate and vitamins C, A and K, or creating more dishes using less red meat and more fish can provide additional nutrients in meals, which will benefit consumers.
Catering for those with food intolerances and allergies is also a top priority. Ensuring that your menus are diverse and varied for all customer groups will mean you can cater to a broader customer base. Of course, services like Erudus will provide all the allergen and nutritional information to assist with your recipe creations, saving you time and money.
You can devise wholesome and tasty recipes for consumers with allergies or specific dietary requirements, by utilising the solutions such as recipe builder and allergen & nutritional data search on Erudus and having instant access to the legally required food data.
Encourage customers to eat healthier with images
People 'buy with their eyes' so once you've created your recipes, you can include glossy images of your dishes on your menus and posters to promote healthier options. Encouraging customers to eat plenty of vegetables or fruit to help meet the '5 a day' challenge which you can promote through 'special offers'. Especially during Healthy Eating Week!
Provide calorie listings
Although not currently compulsory, leading charities such as Diabetes UK are asking businesses to introduce calorie labelling. According to the results of their survey 'Three in four people (76%) said they believed that restaurants and cafes should display calorie information on their menus'.
The FSA is also calling for calorie labelling, and the Government is consulting on legislation to mandate consistent calorie labelling in England. The FSS (Food Standards Scotland) has also launched a consultation into proposals to make food eaten outside of the home healthier.
By offering people a way to make more responsible and informed decisions, when they eat out, as well as gain the dietary and health benefits that follow, you will be building trust and encouraging repeat business.
Safety first! – Provide allergen info and dietary suitability on menus
Erudus already gives you this capability so that you can access the nutritional data and allergen information for ingredients listed within the platform. Going one step further for your customers and providing this information, such as 'suitable for vegans', 'gluten-free', 'may contain nuts' etc., is a welcome gesture. Listing the food data on your menus, will save you and your colleagues time and mean that customers can order with confidence.
Seek inspiration for healthier dishes
If you are looking for inspiration for healthier dishes, then there are many avenues to explore. Social media is a great way to share variations of food dishes and collaborate with other caterers, chefs and even discover what customers want on the food menus. Search online for other chefs, recipe websites and recommended menus. Influence Digest provides a list here of the top 10 healthy food chefs on social media. The rankings are based on the social media following of healthy food chefs.