As the Food Guide Pyramid is changing, so are diets of Americans.
Many people are becoming more aware of what they eat as more research shows eating unhealthy foods can cause serious health risks.
Some states are considering whether to force chain restaurants to list nutritional information on menus. The Food and Drug Administration recently issued a new regulation requiring companies to disclose on labels how much artery-clogging trans fat their products contain.
Some local restaurants are also acting on the trend.
“We have a greater focus on people who are interested in vegetarian options. We focus more on poultry and seafood over red meat,” said Addison’s owner Brad Pippen.
Addison’s will modify each menu item according to each person’s needs.
“People come in and request no cheese or substitute grilled chicken, that is no problem,” Pippen said.
“We offer healthy entrees on our menu as well as a variety of salads. Our menu is pretty diverse, so we are able to appeal to a good cross section of people,” Pippen said. “Any restaurant that features a lot of carbs will have to take into consideration the diets that are becoming more and more popular, like the Atkins diet.”
Stacy Hudson, a manager at Grand Cru, said although the restaurant does not plan to adjust its menu, most menu items can be made to order.
“If people need substitutions, we take care of them that way,” Hudson said.
At Bambino’s Italian Cafe, owner Brian Ash said they have not adapted their menu yet. “We just keep doing the same thing we have been doing for the past nine years. We have had some concerns,” he said. “So many people are on the low-carb diets and pasta, subs and pizzas all have carbs.
“Because of the low-carb Atkins craze, we have looked at creating a low-carb special menu for people who are on that diet,” Ash said. “It wouldn’t be as long as our regular menu — it would be a choice of six to 10 items. It is currently on the list of things to get to, but still in product development.”
Ash said dieters can find salads that are low-carb and heart-healthy at Bambino’s. A low-fat Italian vinaigrette dressing is also available.
Pam Reinbold, owner of Shake’s Frozen Custard, said it is difficult to do low-carb with dairy.
“But, we are working on some non-dairy items for our menu,” she said. “We always strive to use the highest quality ingredients that we can. We don’t use any fillers in our custard mix.”
Shake’s does offer an option with low carb, called the Shake’s Splash, which is described as a “blended, all natural, fat-free frozen fruit beverage.”
While providing nutrition information of menu items could be beneficial for patrons, it could also be costly for local restaurants.
Ash said Bambino’s is “just a small little mom and pop restaurant. We don’t have any of that stuff. We don’t have a team of scientists to figure those things out.”
Yet most of the local restaurant owners said they will do so if requested.
“Because we develop our own menu, I am sure that we would be able to come up with that information upon request,” Pippen said. “It would require a lot of time and research, but it is not out of the question.”
Reinbold said the basic nutrition information of the foods offered at Shake’s is posted on its Web site.
At Grand Cru, nutritional information isn’t available yet. “I don’t see us doing that in the future, but if it is a question we are asked frequently, we might be able to provide it on a one-on-one basis,” Hudson said.