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Restaurants Emphasize “Healthy” In Response To Diners’ New Year’s Resolutions

As the New Year starts this month, many restaurants have gotten ready for their diners’ New Year’s resolution of eating healthy this 2012.

Technomic found out that in response to most Americans’ resolve to eat healthy and have a better diet this year; restaurants have created menu items that give them what they want: dishes that have lesser calorie counts, reduced fat and no sugar. The findings, part of Technomic’s Menu Monitor, are results of data that are collected on a quarterly basis from chain and independent restaurant menus.

“A lot of customers who are on a diet are hesitant to come to restaurants to eat since they view it as an unsafe turf—they aren’t aware of their more healthful options, and sometimes become lured to indulge on tempting treats at restaurants’ menus and menu card holders,” said Darren Tristano, Technomic’s Executive Vice President. “But then there is now a slow rise of restaurants who can give these diners a safer place to eat, offering various healthful dishes.”

It’s interesting to note that the term “low fat” has been used 33% higher in 2011 than in 2010, while the use of “fat-free” and “non-fat” have increased by 12%. “No sugar” has gone up by 51% yearly over the recent years, and “low calorie” has an astounding 154% growth rate the past year. Menus that are described as “healthy” have increased by 86%, too.

Among the many “better-for-you” additions that restaurants have offered in their menus, menu folders and menu card holders include:

• a new breakfast sandwich from Starbucks described as Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon with White Cheddar;

• “lite” menu offerings from Romano’s Macaroni Grill—Shrimp Salad with Warm Spinach, Pollo Caprese and Chicken Spiedini;

• fat-free smoothies from Jack In The Box—mango and strawberry flavors and strawberry-banana;

Sonic Drive-In’s fat-free caramel flavored dipping sauce for its fresh apple slices; and

• The catchy healthful description of Skinny Margaritas from Abuelo’s: “fabulous taste of a regular margarita, for only half its calories.”

Losing weight and getting fit ranks the highest in most American’s list of New Year’s resolutions year after year. After a season of too much sweets and parties, people vow to get fitter and lose weight in the coming year, and they think that they need all the help from restaurants to be able to do that. Eating healthier and dieting also comes fourth in the list, in between quitting smoking, learning something new, getting out of debt, saving money, spending more time with family, traveling to new places, being less stressed, volunteering and drinking less.