Consumer Health Trends Inspire Better Restaurant Menu Nutrition

By TriMark R.W. Smith

Consumer appetites and dining habits drive industry trends. Read more about recent happenings affecting the foodservice industry to assist in optimizing your own menu.

Go Veggie Days

Vegetarian dishes are for more than herbivore foodies. Though not a new concept, restaurants are making Meatless Mondays a weekly tradition. From cafés to high-end establishments, the concept is being taken to new heights. Chefs are preparing menu specials with in-season, local produce and infusing menu staples with local flavors. These culinary creations not only delight guests’ palettes, they attract new and repeat customers.


More Options for Adults

More menus are featuring lower calorie and gluten-free options. The Cheesecake Factory recently unveiled their “SkinnyLicious” menu, with all items coming in at under 590 calories. While gluten-free options are currently a weight loss trend, they are also practical alternatives for people who truly can’t eat gluten. Restaurants are expanding their menus to attract these new clientele, including Chili’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, P.F. Chang’s and Macaroni Grill.

Better Options for Kids

Children’s menus are notorious for their high-calorie finger food offerings, yet healthier sides for kids are becoming more featured. Many eateries, like Disneyland’s theme park, are now making nutritious foods center stage and pushing unhealthy choices like fries and soda into the background. The benefits are two-fold: offering kids choices allows them to express their independence, while providing better options gives parents greater control of what their youngsters put into their bodies.

Mindful Eating

The USDA has recognized the need for promoting more conscious eating. An upgrade from the long-running MyPyramid, the new MyPlate offers a better visual for consumers. The place setting image features portion-sized food groups and emphasizes whole grains and vegetables. Accompanying the new healthy plate map are some tips for more conscious food intake. As guests become more aware of proper portion-sizing, restaurants will have to follow suit.

Mobile Nutrition

Calorie counting trackers like Weight Watchers Mobile and the iPhone’s MyFitnessPal app give people instant access to health information—whenever, wherever. Sites like and GoodFoodNearYou list local restaurant menus and their nutritional information online, allowing customers to better decide on where to dine based on their diet or dietary restrictions. Many restaurants are making the smart move towards becoming more transparent about menu nutrition and ensuring there is something delicious for everyone.


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