Fast Food Chains Adapting to Health Trends

Adapting to trends can bring a wealth of new opportunities and growth but it’s not always the most comfortable thing is it?

Since you’re reading this, you are most likely aware of the healthy food movement and want to learn more about how your restaurant can capitalize on this trend. After all, there is so much regarding this space that it can feel overwhelming for older restaurants that may not be traditionally known as healthy.

If your restaurant was not built on the foundations of being healthy, you can rest assured that you will not necessarily be required to go back to the drawing board and redo everything! There is a spectrum within this movement and many big restaurant chains are making small changes over time. Have a read to see some practical examples of restaurant chains adapting to the healthy food trend and snag some ideas for your own restaurant.

Great Examples of Fast Food Chains Adapting to Health Trends

Chik-fil-a: Gluten Free Bun

Now here’s a prime example of a major restaurant chain making small changes to accommodate more lifestyles. Chik-fila-a wouldn’t quite be Chik-fila-a without it’s one-of-a-kind chicken would it? The distinct look, texture, and flavor of their chicken (in addition to their signature waffle fries) is not something to change or else you turn more than half the country against you.

To somewhat dip a finger into this new world of healthy eating while keep the core of their identity, Chik-fil-a rolled out gluten-free buns onto the menu.

It costs diners an additional $1.15 and is made of quinoa, amaranth, and sorghum as alternatives to refined flour which loses up to 80% of nutrients. Molasses and raisins are used as sweeteners.

So even though Chik-fil-a can’t change their entire menu to make it healthier, they still took a small step in following the healthy food trend. They even serve the bun separately for diners to assemble themselves in order to avoid contamination in the kitchen. It may sound a little ungraceful, but that’s what happens when adapting to change, and Chick-fil-a shows us that it’s okay.

Burger King: Burger-Meat Alternative

Burger King and health trends aren’t the most expected combo when it comes to the restaurant industry but even fast food joints are trying.

Burger King makes the impossible, possible with the impossible burger. To be clear, whether or not it is actually healthy will not be touched upon in this post but rather be shown as an example of a major restaurant chain adapting to the times.

Continuing on, Burger King partnered up with Impossible Foods to create a version of the whopper that uses plant-based patties instead of meat. The patty is made of soy leghemoglobin while the rest of the burger is unchanged and it even tastes similar to a whopper!

As you can probably imagine, there are always concerns about cross-contamination in fast food restaurants and Burger King is no exception. Despite this they are transparent about using the same broiler for their meat patties and accept special requests to use a non-broiler method to keep it as vegetarian as possible.

Chipotle: Whole 30 Diet Option

Adapting to healthy eating trends doesn’t always have to involve offering alternatives for specific foods. Another way of following trends can be achieved by accommodating life style diets like Chipotle does with their whole 30 option. To learn more about lifestyle diets like keto, whole 30 and paleo, you can refer to our blog post on demystifying lifestyle diets.

Whole 30 is a strict diet designed to cleanse and reboot the body in a 30-day cycle. It restricts added sugar, legumes, alcohol (cooking and drinking), dairy, soy, grains, MSG, and is loaded with lean meat and veggies.

Chipotle has a bowl dedicated to those practicing a whole 30 lifestyle diet that adds baby kale and spinach to it’s staple romaine-only salad. The chicken is also different as it is cooked with sunflower oil to meet the requirements of a whole 30 diet.

As you can imagine, most people following a whole 30 diet will have to cook their own food for maximum adherence to it’s restrictions. Can you imagine how convenient this is for those who follow a whole 30 diet but maybe, forget their home-prepared lunch at home?

Hopefully by now you can see that following trends is rather broad and can be done many different ways. You can customize a meal that caters to specific life style diets and bring convenience to many lives instead of going the regular route of just making everything gluten-free.

Taco Bell: Full Customization

Surprised to see Taco Bell on this list? Believe it or not, Taco Bell has (very subtly) become one of the healthier fast food chains out there. While we could highlight their reduction in artificial ingredients, sodium, and pledge of using cage-free eggs, we’d rather talk about something more phenomenal.

Where Taco Bell really shines when it comes to accommodating health trends, is it’s fully customizable menu. With their mobile and online ordering platform, customers can decide to add or subtract any ingredient from their meal to fit their lifestyle. For instance, a health-conscious customer may want to cut out bacon and sour cream to reduce calories. Every custom order also has a nutrition calculator to help customers track their nutritional intake.

By leveraging customer empowerment through customization, Taco Bell can remain the same restaurant while serving both those who want to pig out and watch their calories.

Your Restaurant Can Adapt to Health Trends Too

It’s entirely possible for your restaurant to adapt to health trends without losing it’s identity or loyal customers. There’s no need to stress out thinking about all the things you could change. Just start with something small, just like these major restaurant chains.

People wanting to eat healthier is a trend that brings a positive change to one’s self, family, and community. Instead of thinking about what you need to change about your restaurant, think about how you can help people live a healthy lifestyle everyday.

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