Eating out is a key feature of our entertainment in South Africa and forms a big part of our social interaction with friends and family. However, many restaurants serve rich and creamy foods that are loaded with calories and are high in fat, sugar and sodium. So what can restaurants do to shift to the global trend of healthy eating?

Offer healthy eating choices

According to online magazine Health24, a balanced diet will have limited saturated and trans fats, adequate mono and polyunsaturated fats, low cholesterol, a good amount of fibre, low sugar and salt. It will also contain a variety of foods. Most nutritionists recommend that lunch and dinner should be around the 600 calorie mark, but many restaurant dishes exceed this amount.

Get patrons to eat healthily

The dangers of unhealthy eating and drinking are no secret and is a much-discussed and debated issue in the media. But any restaurant owner will tell you that their patrons aren’t likely to eat what is dictated to them. People eat what they like and what they like usually leans more towards the unhealthy. The success of greasy-spoon, fast-food chains is proof of that. A possible solution is to make healthy eating your default option. Serve a salad with your burgers and sandwiches instead of fries (which your customers can easily switch out if they want to). Discovery is pioneering another approach to rewarding healthy eating. Partnering with restaurants including Col’Cacchio and Ocean Basket, Discovery offers diners 25% cash back for healthier choices.

Make healthy options popular options

Some of the biggest issues when it comes to buying food are price and convenience. For many low-income families, buying food that is more unhealthy isn’t so much a choice as a necessity. Healthier options are more expensive and more effort to prepare (and therefore get access to). If more healthy options gained traction in the industry then the infrastructure would follow, restaurants would become more organic or buy locally sourced meat and food products at better prices and offer these dishes at more affordable prices.

Restaurants can promote healthy eating

While healthy eating might be unappealing to the average restaurant patron, there are ways to try and overcome this perception. Focusing on healthier options in menu design and restaurant recommendations, for example, or offering smaller portions at a discount, or simply providing more fruit, vegetables and grains. Another possible solution is to provide nutritional information on menus.

As the world becomes more conscious about healthy eating, restaurants need to be flexible and change with the times. For more restaurant tips that will take your restaurant to new levels of success, download our guide to Secret Ingredients for a Successful Restaurant.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst