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National Restaurant Association - Mark National Nutrition Month with NRA resources

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Mark National Nutrition Month with NRA resources

As National Nutrition Month gets under way, it's a good time to look at how the National Restaurant Association and its members promote healthful menu choices and lifestyles.

Seventy-two percent of adults say they lean toward healthier items when dining out, according to the Association's 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast.

Restaurant operators and chefs increasingly are trying to satisfy that demand. Healthful kids' meals topped the list of hot trends in limited-service restaurants, according to the Forecast. Health/nutrition was among hot menu trends for 2012, according to the NRA's "What's Hot" chefs' survey.

Nutrition-related items or culinary themes that ranked in the top 20 include whole grain items in kids' meals, fruit/vegetable children's side items and "mini meals," such as smaller versions of adult menu items.

The NRA offers several resources to help restaurants enhance menus with more healthful options, including education opportunities, discounts on nutrition analysis and consulting services and tools to identify, create and market healthful children's items.

This month, the Association's Nutrition Study Group will cover health and wellness issues at its spring meeting in Portland, Ore. The group will discuss the importance of breakfast, whole granins, healthful oils and other hot topics.

Similarly, the NRA Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, set for May 5 through 8 in Chicago, will offer several education sessions on nutrition issues.

In addition to helping restaurant operators, the Association's Kids LiveWell program also helps parents. The initiative helps parents find healthful children's options at more than 20,000 restaurant locations.

Participating restaurants offer items that meet strict criteria based the USDA Dietary Guidelines and other scientific recommendations from leading health organizations. 

The initiative aims to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, as well as limit unhealthy fat, sugar and sodium.

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