The dieter’s guide to eating out

More cafés cropping up at different locations across Bangalore means one is spoilt for choice and currently, customisation seems to be the USP with café chains aggressively targeting the health-conscious eater.

Subanna Kannur, head of business, Au Bon Pain India, says with more and more Bangaloreans eating out on a regular basis, providing healthier options is necessary. For instance, at Au Bon Pain, food items are baked and not fried, informs Kannur.

“Customers are given a choice at various levels: for instance, with mayo or without, brown bread instead of white and the kind of salad dressing,” he says. Au Bon Pain also has a nutritional kiosk, through which people can calculate the nutritional values of what they are eating. “It’s a way of keeping clients informed about the benefits of the dishes they are choosing. Whatever they order, the nutritional elements, along with important facts like allergens , are listed,” says Kannur, adding that the response to this has been “overwhelming”.

According to Saurabh Swarup, head of marketing and product development, Barista Coffee Company Limited, a wide consumer base today is health conscious. “To accommodate them,we have a range of slimmer sandwiches. The non-veg slimmer sandwich is made of healthy and nutritious egg whites . Along with this, we have added healthy Indian snacks such as poha to our menu,” he says. adding that Barista even offers customers low-cal beverages.

Sarath Chandran, outlet in-charge of Coffee World, Eva Mall, says this chain too offers a range of options for the health conscious eater and confirms that this is a growing trend.

“Many of our customers, from youngsters to the elderly, prefer healthy food and go for low-cal eats. Our vegetarian sandwiches, salads and breads like brown bread and panini are the most preferred selections,” says Chandran. Coffee World’s sister business Cream and Fudge Factory also offers eggless and low-cal ice creams.

Hanging out and eating at cafés is an inevitable part of urban life, so why not choose healthier options? That way you get to socialise and still not compromise on your diet, says 20-year old Tanu Kulkarni.

“Many cafés have slimmer sandwiches. I think it’s great that they are catering to our needs,” she says. “The offers are becoming more personalised. There’s something to suit every individual.”

Jyothi Prasad, chief dietician, Manipal Hospital, believes this is a positive trend as it indicates that people are taking care of themselves. “Food manufacturers are also more aware of this need in the market. For instance, you have options like high fibre biscuits and whole wheat noodles,” she says.

Perspectives about health are changing rapidly and in a good way, she feels. “It’ll be great if people make this a bigger part of their lives by eating healthier on the whole and exercising,” says Prasad.

Published in DNA, June 14th 2010