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Restaurants cater to health-minded eaters

Dieters may not be able to have their cake and eat it too, but ice cream could be a different story.
Owners of I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt have been addressing the needs of their customers for years.
“It’s not just fad diets. There are a lot of families who come in and cannot handle dairy products, who are diabetics, who cannot have eggs,” said owner Bridgette Saunders.
She and her husband, Tony, took over the local franchise six years ago. Low-fat, no-fat and Nutrasweet options were already available at the store.
The Saunderses added regular ice cream to the menu and in the last year added fruit smoothies and Weight Watchers Smart Ones.
Smart Ones have rapidly become a popular item on the menu.
“French vanilla is a low-fat yogurt that’s always flown out of here. Nothing compared until the Smart Ones,” said Saunders.
The health-smart owner said the product appeals to more than Weight Watchers dieters. She liked the chocolate flavor.
“It’s fat free. It’s ice cream, but it has less sugar, and it doesn’t use Nutrasweet.”
To top off healthy choices, the local establishment has added sugar-free and low-fat toppings.
Saunders said having the healthy items keeps business constant.
Regulars will order Smart Ones in laymen’s terms, “I want the two pointer!”
Some customers choose fruit smoothies for their lunch. Others with a sweet tooth don’t always get the point. Saunders laughed when talking of a woman who tops her brownie with low-fat ice cream, sugar-free toppings and syrupy walnuts.
But being experimental and daring isn’t always dangerous for dieters. Saunders said she and her husband try to take suggestions about trying new products.
“You’ve got to listen to your customers,” she said. “A lot of things we wouldn’t know about if our customers didn’t ask about it. You’ve got to keep them happy.”
That willingness to try new things has made the Lincolnton branch of I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt a business to watch within its franchise. Saunders said theirs was the first to offer Smart Ones and is often approached with new items.
“We’re willing to try anything,” she said.
Healthy food options don’t end with dessert. Many main dish choices exist at fast food and sit down restaurants.
McDonald’s recently sent out a circular listing calorie counts, fat grams and carbohydrates of many items on their menu.
Dieters in a rush may still choose from the nationally-known chain’s grilled items or salads. Breakfast options are also listed but may require special ordering to omit butter or cheese.
Healthy options are nothing new at House of Pizza in Lincolnton.
The local restaurant offers decadent dishes including lasagna, pizza and sub sandwiches. But a special “diet menu” includes grilled chicken plates and wraps with cantaloupe rather than fries.
“We’ve had a diet list on our menu for years,” said owner Mariann Gregory. “I know that it works. I’ve lost more than 30 pounds on it.”by Diane Turbyfill

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