National Nutrition Month: Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle

Fruits and vegetable varity

Learn how to incorporate healthy food trends into your operation

March is National Nutrition Month, making this a perfect time to review some of the top nutrition-related trends in foodservice. National Nutrition Month is an annual education and information campaign created in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Academy’s mission is to promote optimal nutrition and well-being for all people by advocating for its members. There are more than 70,000 members, which makes it the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. This year’s campaign focuses on having a healthy lifestyle. While the term “healthy” likely means different things to different people, it is apparent that overall nutrition and the food we eat are on the top of many people’s minds these days. Many of the top foodservice trends this year focus on what kinds of foods we’re consuming, where they’re coming from, and what’s in them. In order to stay competitive, it is important to recognize some of these trends and incorporate them into your foodservice operation. 

The local movement

Support for the local economy and bringing business to regular, everyday people is a huge driver in the local movement. There seems to be an increased trust in purchasing from local places. Related is the term “hyper-local,” which is also gaining popularity often meaning “house-made” or grown in house. Many restaurants, schools, and healthcare systems have been jumping on this trend by incorporating on-site gardens to produce fruits and vegetables for their meals. Not only is this cost-effective, but also a clever marketing tactic. Benefits include adding variety to menus as well as offering special, seasonal options. 

Sustainability

According to the National Restaurant Association, the sustainability movement is not going away anytime soon. People are becoming more aware of how the decisions we make are affecting the environment and our future. Another aspect of sustainability is food waste reduction and management. This is important in the restaurant industry, schools, and in healthcare systems. Composting, recycling, and donating are all strategies that reduce food waste. Also, with food prices on the rise, many places are being pushed to take a closer look at minimizing waste as a cost management tool.

Clean eating & labeling 

A clean label is often described as a product that uses familiar, easy-to-identify ingredients. It can also be defined by the number of ingredients in a product. Manufacturers are jumping on this marketing strategy, many of which are not even considered healthy foods but happen to be made with fewer ingredients. We also continue to hear the word “transparency.” Some ingredients, such as brominated vegetable oil (or BVO), have received a lot of media coverage recently. Bromine is an element found in flame retardants, and it has been associated with neurological damage and skin lesions. It has recently been removed from many products in the United States because of public concerns. This trend ties in with the fact that people want to know more about the foods they are consuming, including the safety and long-term effects.

Nutrition

Nutrition remains one of the top foodservice trends, and it also ties in closely with this month’s campaign to bite into a healthy lifestyle. More and more people are checking the nutrition and ingredients on the products they consume. It doesn’t just happen when they shop at the grocery store, either. It happens when they go out to eat, dine in school cafeterias, as well as in eat at healthcare facilities. Foodservice operators can accommodate these requests by ensuring nutrition information is available on the products and recipes they serve to consumers. Creating menus with healthful options is essential to staying competitive in the foodservice industry. This can easily be achieved by incorporating colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and a variety of lean proteins on the menu. Adding creativity and unique flavors is also crucial to stand out among the competition, as many of these trends have already been hitting tables around the country.