The American Diabetes Association said that in 2015, about 30 million Americans had diabetes; and, there were likely many undiagnosed cases. Since diabetics produce little or no insulin—a hormone that helps transfer energy to cells—glucose can build up in the bloodstream and cause many health issues. As you can imagine, diabetics have to carefully watch what they eat, so that excess glucose isn't an issue.
Dining out can be extra challenging for these individuals since nutrition and portion size can be a gamble. However, if you have a restaurant, you certainly don't want to isolate this large demographic. Here's how your restaurant can make small changes to cater to the diabetic population:
Overhaul Your Breakfast Menu
The Washington Post says that while breakfast used to be purported as "the most important meal of the day," it's role has changed to incredibly unhealthy items. So many breakfast foods are comprised of high glycemic foods, like cold cereal, pancakes, waffles, French toast, etc. If you offer breakfast at your restaurant, it would be a good idea to offer low-carb or high-quality carbs (e.g., whole grains) to help diabetic diners keep their blood sugar in a good range.
If you offer pancakes and waffles, be sure to look into sugar-free syrup. Since pancakes and waffles already pack a wallop in the carb department, diabetic customers can balance that out with a low-sugar topping. Consider syrup products with stevia or agave nectar. Stevia has anti-diabetic and anti-oxidant properties, and it has a low glycemic number and few calories. Some websites say that agave nectar is also good for diabetics since its glycemic number is lower than honey or sugar. If you cannot find sugar-free syrup that works for you, it may be okay for some diabetics to have pure maple syrup. Just be sure to avoid imitation syrups with harmful ingredients like corn syrup.
Consider Shrinking Portion Sizes
Since larger portions mean a larger percentage of carbs, smaller portion sizes are fantastic for diabetics.
An article on the Food Newsfeed lays out some of the pros and cons of small portion sizes. While logistics in the kitchen can be difficult at first, there are many good things about smaller portion sizes. The article says that smaller portion sizes appeal to two major demographics: price- and calorie/diet-conscious people. So, you would not only be catering to the diabetic population, but these smaller portions would cater to many other people as well.
There are many ways to make small portions work. For instance, consider offering a set menu of lunch specials, so the kitchen isn't backed up on orders. Expand the appetizer menu or start offering tapas and/or other finger-foods that are great for smaller dishes.
Teach Your Servers and Cooks to Be Flexible About Menu Alternatives
The way a meal is prepared can greatly affect a person's diabetes, so it's key to have your servers be knowledgeable about cooking techniques. For instance, if a dish at your restaurant is usually fried, make sure that customers know that healthier prep methods, like grilling or broiling, are offered as well. If some items are usually cooked heavily in oil or butter, be sure these items can also be offered with a light cooking spray.
If you keep these tips in mind and work with healthy food suppliers, your restaurant will be more likely to reach this dining demographic.Share