SAN DIEGO — Healthy Dining, based here, is constantly updating a website it has designed to make it as easy as possible for restaurant-goers to find menu items that meet specific nutritional criteria.
Consumers nationwide preparing to dine out or take food away from a restaurant can now go to healthydiningfinder.com to locate a restaurant near them that offers menu items meeting particular dietary guidelines.
Healthy Dining, a company established in 1990, had until recently focused solely on restaurants in Southern California.
“We wanted to develop an online version of what we had been doing with restaurants in California,” Erica Bohm, the company's vice president and director of strategic partnerships, told SN.
“We applied for, and received, a grant from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to do it,” Bohm said. “The CDC was looking for innovative solutions for addressing obesity.”
Healthy Dining had been working hand in hand with California restaurants to do a nutritional analysis of particular menu items and then promote them in various ways.
“Restaurants wanted to be a part of this. They were either already proactive or wanted to be.”
The CDC grant enabled the company to develop its restaurant-finder website and launch it just about a year ago. Already, more than 50,000 individual restaurant locations are listed. Both chains and single-unit restaurants are participants, and supermarkets' prepared food and food-service programs are undoubtedly offering some items that could qualify.
Burger King is part of the program. Its grilled chicken sandwich, veggie burger and Whopper Jr. qualify. Red Lobster and Quizno's are among chains to come on board most recently.
Restaurant participants pay a fee to be part of the finder website, but they get help from Healthy Dining's dietitians to pinpoint and analyze up to 10 of their menu items for calorie count, total fat and saturated fat. In choosing healthier menu items, Healthy Dining puts a sharp focus on lean proteins and fresh produce.
As it is with most online locators, visitors to healthydiningfinder.com are asked to type in their address or their ZIP code and how far away they're willing to travel. Then a list of restaurants and their locations comes up. Easy navigation to the proper link brings up the qualified items the particular restaurant offers.