THE UK HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY AND HEALTHY EATING
As a nation we struggle to eat healthy and take sufficient exercise to burn off the calories we consume, we put the blame on our busy lifestyles and eating on the run. This is where the hospitality industry as a whole can play its part.
The UK hospitality industry has to play its part in improving the nation’s health. The industry in various guises provides in excess of 8 billion meals a year, including food eaten in hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, work place, leisure facilities, hospitals, schools and armed forces.
In recent years survey results show that as a nation we are making improvements in our diets, but like the school report we can do better, we are now on average eating 4.5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Therefore the power of communication is getting through, so as a hospitality industry what can we do.
Despite all of the good efforts of recent years people still continue to eat too much and not do sufficient activity and as we consume more calories than we burn off this leads to weight gain. The carrying of excess weight puts us at greater risk of a whole range of serious health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and some cancers.
There are a number of ways of educating people. The UK hospitality industry as a whole needs to help the population make healthier choices by ensuring that through menus, counter and buffet displays it highlights the healthy food and drink choices.
Diners constantly look to food service operators to be innovative in their approach and we have seen demand move to lighter dishes and healthy cuisine utilising locally sourced products. The promoting and producing healthy food can come in a number of ways including:
- Promoting the eating of five fruits and vegetables per day
- Promoting fresh fish on menus
- Promoting stir-fry cooking
- Promote starchy foods, particularly whole grain varieties
- Reduce the amount of salt in cooking
- Removal of artificial trans fats from foods
- Reduce saturated fats and sugars in our foods
- Provide calorie information on menus and websites
- Provide nutritional information on dishes on menus and websites
In schools we can educate our children by utilising tools like the eatwell plate, which clearly demonstrates the proportion of the food types we should consume to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
As the hospitality industry we can help create the right environment to empower and support people to make informed balanced choices that will help lead to healthier lives. The Department of Health has created the Public Health Responsibility Deal; visit http://responsibilitydeal.dh.gov.uk, for hospitality businesses to make significant contributions to improving public health by helping to create this environment. Business can sign up to the Responsibility Deal to commit to take action to improve public health, information on how to sign up is on the website. As part of this pledge you can communicate to your customers the importance of healthy eating through Change4Life and gain approval for your activities. The Change4Life brand is a popular trusted health brand and can be used to communicate a wider message to your customers, see www.nhs.uk/Change4Life. The Change4Life website provides more information on eating healthier and keeping active.
As an individual in the hospitality industry whatever we can do to help produce healthier living will go to reducing the level of obesity in the UK therefore improving the nation’s health.
If you require assistance in providing and promoting healthier options or providing nutritional information please contact me.