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Your Wish is Their Command: How conscious consumers are shaping the food and restaurant industry

During a recent presentation, an audience member asked what the biggest difference was in people I counsel now versus when I first began my practice more than 25 years ago.

The answer is quite simple. People are much more aware of the role nutrition can play in their overall health and wellbeing. Back in the day, many clients came to me with horrible eating habits. Yes this still happens…I often meet with clients who eat a very unbalanced, unhealthy diet, but it’s happening less and less.

The average consumer is more aware than ever of the importance of consuming foods that will enable our bodies and minds to function at their peak capacity. I am not the only one who is taking notice of this increase in consumer awareness. There are a number of academic studies and consumer surveys telling us that Canadians are interested in eating foods that are locally sourced, contain less additives and promote optimal health, AND taste great to boot. (Sources : https://www.restaurantscanada.org , http://www.gftc.ca/knowledge-library )

These statistics are backed up by a few simple truths. One is the type of offerings we see in restaurants. Years ago, when trying to encourage a major restaurant chain to offer healthier choices, I was told sales would suffer if healthy choices were indicated on the menu.

Fast forward to today and we see most food service establishments offer detailed nutrition information on their websites and even in–store.

Some, like SUBWAY® restaurants take making healthy choices to the next level. Since the 90’s they have led the charge to improving the quality and healthfulness of their offerings.

In 1998 SUBWAY® published the nutrition information for all their products, and added ingredient listings and allergens in 2001. But SUBWAY® did not stop at just giving consumers information. They designed their “8 under 6” menu which featured sandwiches with 6 grams of fat or less. Further wanting to improve the fat content of items that were offered in their restaurants, trans fats were removed from the menu. Next, a lower sodium initiative was undertaken – they currently have reduced sodium in their lunch and dinner subs by 30%. Did they stop there? No, this was only just the beginning.

As consumers become more health conscious the changes have continued. More recently, SUBWAY® removed high fructose corn syrup from their menu items, received the Whole Grain stamp of approval on their 9-grain wheat and honey oat bread and source local ingredients (like 100% Canadian turkey and ham) whenever possible. Better yet, SUBWAY® has pledged to remove all artificial colours, flavours and additives preservatives from the menu by 2017.

It’s refreshing to see companies improve their menu offerings to meet the needs of today’s consumers. The bottom line is that eating in restaurants can be fun, especially when you can make healthy and knowledgeable meal choices. Keep checking out the website of your favourite restaurant, including SUBWAY® for updates on how they continue to bring healthier options to your breakfast, lunch or dinner plate.

This post is sponsored by SUBWAY® restaurants but the thoughts and opinions expressed within are my own.

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