Our promise to you includes the following commitments:
- Healthy menu items are mainstream offerings throughout our cafés.
- Healthy choices are easy for guests to make in all cafés.
- COR icons are used consistently to denote foods with particular nutritional qualities (In Balance, Vegan, Vegetarian, Well-Being, and Made without Gluten).
- Our menus emphasize the use of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains as a featured ingredient. Our first choice is to use locally and sustainably produced items.
- Our chefs practice “stealth” nutrition as a standard operating procedure by using healthy cooking techniques and ingredients in everyday food preparation.
- Guests enjoy great-tasting, abundant meals, which happen to be prepared in more healthful ways.
- We serve reasonable portions sizes based on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
- Ongoing staff training focuses on appropriate serving sizes to meet client commitments and encourage reasonable portions for guests.
- Our guests are introduced to and encouraged to make healthy choices through focused marketing and tastings.
- All healthy options are flavorful and presented with strong eye appeal to encourage those selections.
- Extremely unhealthy options (such as double or triple burgers, grande taco salads with fried shell, sour cream, and black olives, etc.) or extremely large portion sizes are never “encouraged” as a daily special.
Eating In Balance at Bon Appétit
At Bon Appétit, we developed the In Balance program to make it easier for you to identify balanced choices when eating in our cafés. By learning the principles of a balanced plate, you can also make these choices at home. Look for the In Balance icon for meals that contain a balanced proportion of whole grains, fresh fruits and/or vegetables, and lean proteins, prepared with a minimal amount of healthy fat.
USDA’s MyPlate and Bon Appétit’s In Balance Plate
In order to help Americans eat a balanced diet, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid was replaced by a plate icon divided into food subgroups, called MyPlate. At Bon Appétit, we used information from this plate in addition to Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate and other current research to develop our In Balance criteria. The USDA MyPlate and Bon Appétit’s In Balance Plates are similar, as they both encourage a largely plant-based diet, with at least one half of your plate being fruits and vegetables balanced with reasonable, but smaller portions, of whole grains and lean protein.
In the 1950s an average meal of a cheeseburger, French fries and soda pop would be about 600 calories, slightly under one third of the total calories an average person needs in one day.
If you eat that same meal today, you’re likely to consume more than 1,200 calories in one sitting — over half of your daily needs. Why such a significant calorie difference for the same meal?
The answer: portion distortion.
What used to be small is now large, and the larges are nothing short of gigantic for many foods. It’s happened so gradually that many people didn’t notice and now view these super large portions as the norm!
Compare the difference in serving size (and calories) of some food and drinks 20 years ago versus today (below):
Without a doubt, larger food and drink portions significantly affect our eating habits. While common sense may tell you that you simply eat until you feel “full” regardless of how much or little you are served, in fact research studies show that when people are given more food, they tend to eat more of it, even past the point of feeling full.
Studies have shown that people who ate a meal that filled up a small plate reported feeling more “full” compared to those who ate the exact same meal on a large plate (it looked like less food).
Of course, satiety (the sense of feeling full) also depends on the food itself. In general, foods that are high in fiber (like whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits) increase satiety. Also, because it takes your body longer to digest and absorb protein and fat compared to refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice), high-protein and high-fat foods keep you feeling full.
We also recommend eating slowly to allow your brain to catch up with your stomach’s signals.
In order to provide a frame of reference for food portions, standard serving sizes have been developed by the USDA as part of their Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
To help you understand what a proper portion looks like, it’s helpful to associate portions with common objects like:
One deck of cards or the palm of your hand = 3 ounces (1 serving of meat, fish or poultry)
One tennis ball = 1/2 cup (1 serving of grains, beans, pasta, other starchy foods or cooked vegetables)
One baseball = 1 cup (1 serving raw vegetables, dry cereal or yogurt/milk)
Tip of thumb = 1 teaspoon (1 serving oil, butter, real mayonnaise)
Ping pong ball = 2 tablespoons (1 serving of hummus, peanut butter, other spreads and as a reasonable portion for salad dressings)
Golf ball = ¼ cup (1 serving dried fruit or nuts)
The number of serving you eat depends on your personal energy needs. Make a point of reviewing the guidelines to learn how to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself and your family.
Closely related to portions is the concept of nutrient density which in simple terms means how much nutrition you get for the calories that food provides. Understanding this concept goes a long way in helping you make choices about which foods you eat and in what quantity.
So, say you are hungry and decide to have a snack. To understand nutrient density, let’s assume you are choosing a doughnut or an apple with peanut butter. Both will be within the same calorie range.
The apple and peanut butter will provide fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, plant-based protein, and healthy fats while the doughnut – well? It provides little in the way of nutrition, just refined white flour, sugar and fat. So by choosing the apple and peanut butter, you not only get the energy boost you need but that energy is coming from a high quality source that is packed with other nutritional benefits.
Foods with the best nutrient density include whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins. Generally, processed and refined foods including many traditional snack foods are considered less nutrient dense, meaning they provide less nutrition for the calories.
Nutrient density is also often related to the portion of food you might choose to consume. Higher calorie, less nutrient dense foods, like desserts, can be part of a healthy diet just in smaller amounts less often while nutrient rich foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, should be eaten at most meals and snacks.
Balancing portion sizes and choosing nutrient dense foods are two easy ways to simplify your approach to nutrition. These concepts allow you to make food choices in all types of environments, even those where nutritional data is not available.
Disclaimer: We attempt to provide nutrition information that is as complete as possible. The nutritional values are based on USDA data, common cooking techniques, and data from our suppliers. Variations may occur due to the use of regional suppliers, seasonal influences, differences in product preparation at the kitchen level, recipe revisions, and other factors. This information is always subject to change and will be updated periodically. Aug 2013