More than ever, today’s restaurant industry is focused on nutrition, and that doesn’t end with calorie counts on menus and more healthful options for customers. As a restaurant employee, you’re at nutrition ground zero, witnessing the nutritional choices made by consumers a hundred times a day. You probably know more about the caloric, fat, salt and other content of food than the average consumer, so why not put that knowledge to work in your personal life as well?
If you’re like most Americans, you’re trying to eat healthier. According to a National Restaurant Association 2010 National Household Survey, nearly three-quarters of adults say they try to eat healthier when dining out than they did two years ago. To respond to diner demands, the NRA has supported a nationwide, consistent menu labeling program to give consumers the information they need to make smart nutritional choices. For restaurant employees, many of whom have their meals at work, you should be familiar with Nutrition 101. You should know, for example, that a 500 calorie sandwich can quickly turn into a 1,000-calorie meal when you add fries, condiments, and a drink. Or that choosing a piece of fruit instead of a doughnut not only saves you calories, but replaces useless sugar and fat with vitamins your body craves.
A few suggestions
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has issued a simple set of nutritional guidelines to help Americans navigate the ever-evolving science of good eating. The National Restaurant Association, the parent of EmployeeEdge, is a national strategic partner of the USDA’s new MyPlate food icon program, which is designed to prompt consumers to build healthy plates at meal times. The USDA’s number one suggestion: Enjoy your food, but eat less. This makes sense; it’s a lot easier to stick to a healthy eating regimen if you’re smart about your food choices.
The rest of USDA’s tips likewise make a lot of sense:
- Avoid oversized portions: Use a smaller plate, bowl, and glass. Portion out foods before you eat. When eating out, choose a smaller size option, share a dish, or take home part of your meal.