Eating Out? Look for these healthy foodservice trends.

Adapted from L. Weiler RD Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News March/April 2016

crfn march 2016If you are like most Canadians who love to eat out, you enjoy having menu choices, maybe some healthy options that taste great and are a good value for money.  The good news is that chefs and foodservice operators are looking for opportunities to freshen up their menus. Here are a Dietitian’s top 5 tips for healthy foodservice trends:

  1. Start the day with breakfast

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and consumers are looking for ways to give their morning a healthy start.  In fact the older we get, the more likely we are to eat breakfast, while younger people between ages of 18-34 tend to skip breakfast more often.[1]  Dietitians recommend starting the day with a healthy breakfast that contains carbohydrates (such as whole-wheat bread or cereal) and a source of protein (such as eggs, yogurt or milk).  Canadians are increasingly relying on restaurants for breakfast and the morning meal is growing faster than any other segment of the day. We can commonly find Greek or regular yogurt parfaits on the breakfast menus.  Expect to see pumped porridge with a healthy twist using other grains such as rye, spelt, black rice and quinoa. Grow the breakfast sandwich trend with menu items such frittatas with fresh vegetables, smoked fish and artisan cheeses.  The influence of this Mediterranean-style eating pattern, in convenient single serve portions may be attractive to consumers who are seeking healthy, fresh, wholesome choices.

  1. Veggies rule

 Canadians are trying to eat more vegetables and fruit! In the latest Tracking Nutrition Trends report, 85% of Canadians said they made an effort to eat more vegetables and fruit in the past year.1 Vegetables are ready to take a starring role in the centre of the plate and foodservice operators can help consumers meet their goal for increased vegetable intake. One way is to increase the availability of vegetable choices on your menu.[2] Canadian Grocer’s 2016 food trends suggest more creative ways to prepare veggies from grilling and smoking to roasting and charring. Building on the well-established trend of fresh and local, innovative and creative foodservice operations can create veggie-centric meals that are healthful yet flavourful to delight consumers and help them enjoy a variety of plant-based menu choices.

  1. Protein is changing

Higher cost of meat and the desire to reduce waste by using use everything from nose to tail has raised interest in under-utilized stewing cuts and organ meats. Chef Leonhard Lechner of Humber College in Toronto, believes that “there will be a strong increase in the entire industry going from expensive protein to less expensive ones. We will see more stewing and braising meats as well as organ meats on the menu.” Health-conscious consumers will opt for less beef, bacon, and other processed and red meats, and instead look to seafood, nuts and seeds, eggs, poultry, and dairy to provide quality protein in their diets according to a diet and nutrition trends forecast from Today’s Dietitian.[3] Meatless proteins are also gaining ground and regular menu items such as braised tofu are popular at restaurants including Chipotle.  2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses by the United Nations – celebrating the goodness of peas, beans, chick peas and lentils. Stay on trend by including these nutritious and versatile sources of protein into your menu.

  1. Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is important to Canadian restaurant leaders according to a recent survey.2 An example of sustainability in foodservice is through the use of packaging says Susan Joseph, Chef at Humber College in Toronto. The Foodservice Packaging Institute notes that sustainability is driving foodservice packaging with “compostable packaging’ as a key trend.  Registered Dietitian Sue Mah agrees, “I love seeing more plates and silverware at fast food eateries now instead of plastic plates and cutlery. Some foodservice establishments also encourage consumers to bring in their own containers for take-out food.”  Dietitians can help assess what a sustainable diet is and provide advice on how to eat in a dietary pattern that is more sustainable for the planet.

  1. In Season, Fresh, Local

“All of foodservice is getting fresher and local menus are still up there,” says Chef Michael Teune of Humber College.  Susan Joseph agrees that chefs continue to showcase the locality of ingredients used in their menus. Consumers crave to know more about their food, where it comes from, the farmer who grew / raised it and how it was prepared. Transparency in ingredient listing and menu planning is an opportunity to build an authentic story in foodservice. Using local ingredients also has an aspect of eating in season which means doing without /and or highlighting foods at during certain times of the year. Locavore consumers also note that eating local foods is better for the environment, since the food doesn’t have to travel very far, therefore less energy is used for transportation, producing a lower carbon footprint which reduces emissions that contribute to climate change.

Are you ready to embrace healthy eating while eating out?  Now is a great time to consider making small healthy changes one meal at a time. Dietitians are uniquely trained food and nutrition experts and are the most trusted source of food and nutrition information for Canadians[4] .  Dietitians can translate scientific and nutrition information and provide information and guidance to make it a little easier for Canadians to choose, eat and enjoy healthy food. Contact me for more information and resources or visit www.

Lucia Weiler BSc. RD is a registered dietitian – nutritionist who specializes in communication, marketing, education and regulatory affairs related to food and beverages. As Principal of Weiler Nutrition Communications Inc., Lucia provides expert services on nutrition trends, food science and labelling compliance. As the Co-Founder of Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists,TM and a Faculty member at Humber College School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism she teaches nutrition, food safety and professional development. Contact, twitter @LuciaWeilerRD


[1]  Eating Patterns in Canada – Part 1 (2010 & 2015) Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

[2] Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (2008 & modified 2015) Initial Report on Public Health: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption.

[3] Today’s Dietitian (2015) Annual Survey of Nutrition Experts Predicts What’s In and Out for 2016

[4] Dietitians of Canada (2015) Nutrition Month 2016 Member Resources


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