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Fad Diets Come And Go, But Restaurants Are Finding Plenty Of Success Catering To Health-Conscious Consumers

Remember when McDonald’s launched the McLean Deluxe in the early ’90s to ride the wave of the low-fat diet era? The burger featured a 91% fat-free beef patty (the secret ingredient was a seaweed extract) and lasted a few years on the menu before it was yanked due to poor sales.

It is now considered one of McDonald’s top five biggest menu flops.

This example brings up an important question: What role, if any, should restaurants play in the latest fad diet or in the chase for the fickle health-conscious consumer in general? After all, restaurant visits have long been considered an indulgence and, from A (Atkins) to Z (Zone), diets come and go quicker than most operators can change a static menu board.

But that hasn’t stopped restaurant concepts from trying. And lately it seems as though there has been a higher degree of success in doing so—at least more so than the McLean Deluxe.

Noodles & Company, for example, just expanded its zucchini-noodle based offerings with two new menu items as part of a new category, “Zoodles and Other Noodles.” In a release, the company said the expansion is in response to overwhelmingly positive guest feedback to its initial Zoodles launch last year. During the company’s Q4 earnings call, executive chairman Paul Murphy said the zucchini noodle is an important step toward the brand’s objective of resonating from a health perspective.

Chipotle launched its Lifestyle Bowls in the beginning of the year. During the company’s latest earnings call, CEO Brian Niccol also said they have resonated with consumers in “a big way.”

“In fact, during the first few days, it generated over a billion earned media impressions,” he said.

The company is now testing several other menu items highlighting “the ideas of lifestyle goals,” Niccol said. This comes on the heels of the chain’s vegan and vegetarian bowls launch in 2018, which made up 12% of Chipotle’s total meals sold last year.

Even the most famous doughnut concept is getting involved. During Dunkin’s Q1 earnings call, CEO Dave Hoffman specifically called out the success of the brand’s Power Breakfast Sandwich.

“It’s a terrific first step for us into the better-for-you category and proves customers are open to more menu options at Dunkin’,” he said. The company is building off that success with a new egg white power bowl.

Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes just jumped into the specialty diet space with its new line of Lifestyle Burgers, including The Paleo, The Keto, The Low Cal, The Vegetarian and The Gluten-Free. For the former three burgers, the bun is replaced by iceberg lettuce.

Natalie Anderson Liu, Mooyah’s vice president of Brand, said restaurant chains should be quick to respond to consumer dietary preferences and lifestyle trends, no matter how quickly they come or go.

“This is simply a matter of being a good listener to guests. Beyond want, we have found that consumers expect us to have menu items that help them achieve their goals,” she said.

So far, the Lifestyle Burgers launch has been “huge.” Thirty-one percent of guests who ordered one of these options were first-time visitors, Liu said.

“This is incredibly exciting and confirms the relevance of featuring our menu this way,” she said.

Liu believes more chains will toe this line of healthier (“lifestyle”) menu offerings.

Two years ago, Scott Davis was named president of CoreLife Eatery after serving as an executive at Panera for nearly two decades. He has a deep perspective of the industry and confirms there is a growing connection between consumers’ dietary demands and restaurants’ responses.

“Over the last couple of decades, as healthy eating has become more popular, restaurants have mostly played role of a ‘marketplace’–essentially providing healthy options or special menus,” he said. “The key is not getting stuck on one style of eating or dieting. Promoting general wellness, clean sourcing and ‘what works for you’ can help. ‘Healthy’ is different for everyone.”

Davis concurs with Liu that we’re now in an era of “expectation” versus “want” when it comes to restaurants providing healthier options.

“On the flip side, consumers do not want to be told what they should or should not be eating. They do not want to feel judged about eating,” he said.

That being said, it’s important for restaurant brands to stick to their core competencies.

“Chasing trends and expanding menus beyond logical extensions of the concept almost always fails. You must be able to gain credibility with your customer,” Davis said.

Great Harvest Bread Co. CEO Mike Ferretti agrees, noting that restaurant companies should be conscious of consumer diet trends, but only adapt to the ones that make business sense for the brand.

“You can’t do them all, and they impact different parts of the country at different times,” he said. “It is easier to steer customers to the things we believe in that fit our brand.”

If a brand swings and misses on a specialty diet offering, Ferretti said it can have an “extreme” impact on the business. Conversely, if it’s a hit, it can have the same effect for the positive.

“Think of all the low-carb businesses that popped up and were gone in a year,” he said. “Alternatively, things like Atkins and Keto hurt us at first, but eventually people come back to whole grains, so it swings.”

Because of this unpredictability, expanding menus to appeal to a broader group of consumers who are chasing a broader variety of diets can be both risky and rewarding.

“Fads are fads. People and businesses will do what they do,” Ferretti said. “What has staying power—the broad ones really driving the industry—is healthy, simple, clean.”

Davis adds that vegan and vegetarian diets have had such staying power since the 1970s and will continue on that path while contributing to a growing cohort of consumers who identify as flexitarians. About one third of consumers now consider themselves to be flexitarians, meaning they simply want another choice than traditional protein every now and then even if they’re not technically vegan or vegetarian.

Don’t expect this pace to slow anytime soon. And don’t expect restaurants to stop trying to reach this growing number of consumers.

“Lifestyle demands are not going away and restaurants will endear themselves and earn loyalty by keeping their menus relevant,” Liu said. “This has resulted in a competitive advantage for us and, more importantly, an increase in sales.”

I have covered the restaurant industry since 2010 when I was named editor of QSRweb.

Source: Fad Diets Come And Go, But Restaurants Are Finding Plenty Of Success Catering To Health-Conscious Consumers

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10 Women Discuss The Crazy Ways They’ve Tried To Lose Weight Fast – Fizzation

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Unless by some genetic miracle you’re able to eat whatever you want and not look a pound over tweenage Victoria’s Secret angel, you’ve probably tried a special diet… or three.

Even if we’ve been down that road before — and back again — there’s something about the promise of seeing results quickly (coupled with the glamour of eating like a waif celebrity) that makes us keep wanting to test it out for ourselves.

We’re a goal-oriented society, after all. Who cares that the process sucks if it’s only temporary?

In the spirit of female solidarity and all the Blueprint cleanses we’ll be back-ordering until the first beach day (and then regretting after the first BBQ), we’ve rounded up our favorite, hilarious and horrific diet stories.

Because we all have at least that one time*…

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of contributors.

1. The Spoon Diet

“In college, right before spring break, my roommate and I decided to go on the Spoon Diet. We were literally allowed to eat anything that we could put on a spoon — soup, parfaits, yogurt, pudding.

“You’d think it would be fun (my preferred utensil is spoon), right? But it was the most miserable two weeks of my life.

“Instead of slowing down to eat, enjoying what I was eating or eating more of the right types of foods, I was literally shoveling parfait after parfait into my mouth as often as possible because I spent most of the day famished and angry at everyone.

“Plus, chugging Natty Lights every night didn’t exactly fall on the Spoon Diet, but it was a liquid so, whatever, okay?”

– Katie, 26.

2. The South Beach Diet

“I just moved to Miami for work and was having trouble making new friends (Miami is cliquey like that). Between that, everyone around me walking around half-naked and having amazing bodies, and I was going through a breakup when I just moved to Miami. I was a prime diet candidate (Did I mention I was dating someone I worked with long distance to only have him break up with me when there was no distance?).

Needless to say, it was a rough time, and I dived deep into working out EVERY DAY.

“My diet of course was the South Beach diet. There are three phases to the South Beach diet: Phase 1 is mostly lean proteins, low-sugar vegetables, and nuts in moderation. No carbs or added sugar whatsoever. Phase 2 adds some grains back in, and Phase 3 shows you how to eat like a normal human being, but I never got this far. I told myself I’d make more of an impact if I stayed in Phase 1 forever.

“This diet was super easy to follow in Miami, as everyone is super healthy, but if I ever left Miami, I’d have to explain my psychotic substitutes when eating out.

“I recall coming back to NY for a work trip with a co-worker/best friend who was also on the South Beach diet. We went for a morning coffee at Starbucks together and both ordered our sad, nonfat cappuccinos. We started to add the cinnamon into our coffee when we saw it appeared unusually shiny.

“Turns out the barista put cinnamon sugar in the cinnamon containers, and we were having a tachycardia in the Starbucks at the thought of consuming sugar in our coffee and were desperately trying to scoop it out. The baristas and customers on line were looking at us like we were crazies.”

– Melissa, 32.

3. The Weekend Diet

“I go on a new cleanse/diet every week, then the weekend comes, and I blackout eat mac and cheese. Every time. All the time. I have no shame.”

– Ashley, 25.

4. The Bee Pollen Diet

“I took bee pollen pills in college before going on spring break. They were amazing, and I lost 10 lbs, so I eventually started taking an extra pill… then I started blacking out randomly midday and having vertigo, and my mom found my pill bottle and the fact that it was made in China and made me swear to stop so I did.

– Karen, 26.

5. The Mono Diet

“It’s definitely not a fad, but anyone looking to drop half of his or her body weight in a matter of hours should definitely acquire mononucleosis.

“When I got mono in 11th grade I dropped three pants sizes. It’s really effective, and it doesn’t cost any money. All you have to do is make out with a bunch of people.”

– Sam, 27.

6. The Dukan Diet

“One year after moving back home to NYC I gained like, 20 pounds. I turned to the Dukan diet, which was created by this French doctor, and supposedly, Kate Middleton had followed it. Between my love of France and Kate Middleton, I figured why not give it a try?

“This diet has multiple phases, which have fun names like “Attack” and “Cruise” phase. The Attack phase had you eating lots of lean protein and 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran a day. I’d have the oat bran in fat-free Greek yogurt with as much cinnamon to make the yogurt palatable. My coworkers were really grossed out with the amount of Greek yogurt that I was consuming.

“I definitely lost weight and looked great, but with summer approaching and all this amazing tasty fruit around like strawberries and watermelon, I had to forget about the diet. Another after effect of Dukan was that I couldn’t look at yogurt for at least an entire year afterwards.”

– Dana, 24.

7. The Gummy Diet

“One time I tried taking these gummy diet supplements. I thought they were too innocent and cute-looking to ever cause me any harm. You were supposed to take two shortly before each meal, but they just made me feel jittery and on edge.

“I’m not sure if they worked because after almost a week on this gummy bear binge, I decided I felt too weird and stopped taking them cold turkey. The next day I woke up at 3 am and vomited about once every half hour for the rest of the day.

“‘First they’re sour, then they are sweet’ is just a myth; those things are straight evil.”

– Caroline, 23.

8. The Homemade Juice Cleanse

“About three summers ago (before it was cool, OBVI), I read about juice cleansing and tried to do one.

“I didn’t have a juicer, and I just used my mom’s old blender. The kale and spinach never ground up quite right, so I ended up half drinking/half chewing nasty green mush for a week.

“I did lose weight, but that could have been because my juices were so disgusting I didn’t touch them.”

– Emma, 23.

9. The No-Diet Diet

“Dieting… it’s really not a part of my vocabulary. I try to do the whole gluten-free thing for health purposes. Back in high school, I tried taking garcinia cambogia, but that stuff made me feel strung out.”

– Natalie, 31.

10. The Organic Juice Cleanse

“I had done the occasional Blueprint cleanse and thought it tasted great. It didn’t bother me that the first day my mind would crash, and I couldn’t process simple decision-making. By the time the three days were over, I’d feel great and get so many compliments on how glowing my skin looked that it didn’t matter.

“When I was about to purchase another juice cleanse, I bumped into my uber-holistic, healthy sun salutation friend. We were chatting, and she insisted that I try Organic Avenue instead of Blueprint because it was way better.

“I took her advice and got the juices for the following day.

“Organic Ave is just plain gross. I don’t mind green juices — provided that they have LOTS of apple or some sort of fruit. Their juices tasted like straight-up vegetable, baby food puree. I told myself to hang in there.

“Second day comes along, and I had SoulCycle planned with String at 6:30pm. He’s notorious for flipping out if anyone is “not on point” or riding “janky.” I had taken his class for a couple months and was finally in a good place.

“This second day on the juice cleanse, however, was a different story. Midway through the class, the dumb candles they had lit were moving, and the room started to spin.

“He kept calling me out for not being on point. I could barely function. No idea how I got through that class.

“The next day, when I had the shakes around midday, I threw in the towel and got a chicken wrap across the street. Last time I juice cleansed.

“When I started to eat carbs again I realized I was such a nasty person before carbs. Carbs make me happy.”

– Erica, 28.

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