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Dear Restaurant Owner, Manager, or Chef:
We need your help! A 2013 study1 showed that the average sit-down meal at several popular chain restaurants contained 1128 calories and 58 grams of fat. Independent eateries were even worse2 – meals contained an average of 1327 calories. Authors of the first study, especially since “nearly 40 percent of meals are now eaten outside the home,” concluded that “addressing the nutritional profile of restaurant meals should be a major public health priority.” Enter Project 20Teen.
The Prime Directive of Project 20Teen is to help restaurants improve the health of their menu items. First of all, as mentioned on our home page, an average daily caloric deficit of 50 calories will make all the difference in the world. Since 40% of all meals (at least one per day) are eaten outside the home, and since the average meal contains 1128-1327 calories, RESTAURANTS COULD, SINGLE-HANDEDLY, REVERSE THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC by shaving only 50 calories off of each meal! This can be accomplished quite easily by reducing portion sizes by only 5% (or cutting out 5-6 grams of fat)! And this will save you money! What other incentive do you need?
We invite restaurants everywhere to improve the health of their menu items in one of three ways, then labeling with the appropriate logo:
- Reduce the caloric content of meals by 50 calories (<5% of many meals) – see 50 or Bust!
- Cut out all sugar and oil (including butter and margarine), no matter the type of food – see S/O Free!
- Replace enough animal-based and processed components with healthily-prepared plant-based foods so as to qualify for The 4:1 Rule (see below) – then label with the appropriate P20T logo. You are the experts, but consider substituting whole-grain bread, tortillas, or pasta for the white stuff, or tomato-based sauces for cream-based. Substitute healthily-prepared plant-based sides for fries or mac-n-cheese, etc.
To reward you for your efforts (we know it takes effort!), if you have or create at least five (5) menu items that are S/O Free! or meet The 4:1 Rule (qualify to sport a P20T Logo), AND create a separate webpage containing a “P20T menu,” we will list your restaurant on our site (and upcoming app)! The more such items you have, the more stars we will give you (one star for every five items, up to five stars), and a “+” for every five beyond that.
What would this accomplish?
The above strategy and efforts would make huge strides in helping us to reverse the “diabesity” epidemic, independently and drastically improving the health and extending the life of those most in need. Improving the nutritional content of restaurant meals would put the average American’s health on steroids. Read The Blue Zones to learn more. Currently it takes an effort of heroic proportions to eat out in a truly healthy fashion. Even restaurants that most think are healthy usually leave their patrons further away from their health and weight loss goals, because of hidden processed calories and a general misunderstanding of what is truly healthy.
Chips and sticks
Because of the huge damage all-you-can-eat (AYCE) chips and salsa or bread/breadsticks can do, one huge step restaurants can make in the right direction is to offer healthy options. Instead of only providing regular chips, offer baked tostadas (without added oil) along with the normal chips. When broken up and used as chips, they provide a healthy way to enjoy this timeless snack! Instead of only providing regular bread or bread sticks, offer whole grain options with spray butter.
As much as we wish it weren’t the case, it will be almost impossible to accomplish our shared goals without your help. For more information, contact us. We thank you in advance for your invaluable contribution to our health, and your willingness to become part of the solution!
1Scourboutakos MJ, Semnani-Azad Z, L’Abbe MR: Restaurant Meals: Almost a Full Day’s Worth of Calories, Fats, and Sodium. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(14):1373-1374