Saturday, May 14, 2005

Atkins Diet Forcing Restaurants To Offer Low-Carb Options

I came across this pseudo-blog fashion and culture magazine web site out of New Zealand called Thread which featured comments from a lady named Megan Johnson regarding how the Atkins lifestyle has affected the dining culture in America and around the world.

Acknowledging that the Atkins way of eating has become a normal part of so many people's lives, Johnson said it is not unusual for people to ask for a sandwich without bread or a steak with a salad instead of a potato at restaurants these days. Most waiters and waitresses have gotten used to hearing from those of us doing low-carb and do what they can to please us with substitution requests.

Whenever I eat out at a restaurant where they know I am on the low-carb lifestyle, the staff is usually eager to accomodate my dining requests to make my meal low-carb. In fact, I just returned from eating at a major national restaurant chain which permitted me to have two side salads with Ranch dressing with my steak.

The restaurants who cater to my low-carb lifestyle will be the ones who will earn and keep my business. It took some of them a while to realize this way of eating wasn't just some fad diet that's here today and gone tomorrow. Most restaurants now realize the low-carb way is here to stay for good.

Johnson said in her article that despite negative press accounts regarding the Atkins diet, it still "continues to rise and rise in popularity." In fact, the latest opinion poll shows that 15% of Americans are now livin' la vida low-carb!

"Everyone is dropping potatoes like, well, hot potatoes and turning pro protein," she exclaimed.

It's true. Potato sales are way down from what they used to be during the heralded low-fat diet days of the 80's and early 90's. I can remember when eating a baked potato without butter, sour cream or bacon was considered good for you on a low-fat diet. And I had the displeasure of eating quite a few of these tasteless wonders back in the day when I was killing myself trying to lose weight on a low-fat diet.

Johnson points out the possibility that a low-fat diet was actively pushed by the U.S. grain association to get people to buy their wheat products. It would be hard to prove, but I wouldn't be surprised. It certainly would explain why the media is so incredibly vile against anything and everything that has to do with low-carb! Could the radical animal rights wackos and their push for an all-vegetable diet be the culprit behind the attacks on Atkins? Hmmmm?

The restaurant industry has been "shaken up" by the Atkins diet, according to Johnson, and has attempted to meet consumer demand for low-carb products to keep up with the change in eating habits that tens of millions of people have chosen to make their lifestyle.

"The industry has realised that it has to adapt to survive, and provide what their consumers want to consume," Johnson stated. "Both restaurants and the producers back to farm and plant level know that they will lose profits if they don’t change to meet demand."

Providing anectodal evidence, Johnson talks about a recent visit to New York City where she saw firsthand the tremendous impact the Atkins diet has had, even at places that used to be taboo for people who are livin' la vida low-carb.

"The protein phenomenon was in almost every restaurant and fast-food chain in New York. Even Subway, a sandwich chain, for crying out loud, was advertising a low-carb menu. At what one assumes is a place that thrives on their daily bread, low carbohydrate wraps are earning a crust ... as I rounded the next bend on Broadway, was low-carb bagels - that most sacrilegious part of Noo Yawkers’ diets - affected by the Atkins diet."

And in London, England, Johnson said she noticed a popular restaurant chain called Yates recently added a laminated "Atkins diet menu" inside the regular menu. One of the dishes served on their Atkins menu is a chargrilled chicken breast between two 6 oz beef patties! Now that's a lot of meat! The side dishes include mushrooms and a side salad instead of fries.

Although the Atkins lifestyle does not advocate drinking alcohol, low-carb or otherwise, Johnson said she had a colleague try a low-carb Michelob Ultra to see what he thought for this story.

"I made my friend test it in the interests of science and good journalism, and he won’t be again- 'It’s awful!' he said, spluttering low-carb beer everywhere across the high-protein laid table.

I'm not a drinker, so I couldn't tell you if low-carb beer is good or not. But what I do know is virtually ever food company is having to face the challenge of what to do about us low-carbers.

Do restaurants adapt to our changing needs or do they simply ignore our business and hope we change our lifestyles back to the way we used to eat? With more than 45 million people on low-carb at this very moment in the United States, I believe it is foolish for any restaurant to become so haughty and not do anything for their low-carb consumers. The result of ignoring us will mean a huge hit to their bottom line. If that happens, I bet they'll notice us then!

Maybe we can convince them this low-carb lifestyle thing is for real after all!

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