Americans love to eat out, and yet Hartman research finds that restaurant offerings present challenges to individual eating approaches and food sourcing.

While eating out more often has certainly benefited a restaurant industry struggling to work its way out of pandemic and economic-driven headwinds, recent Hartman research finds that restaurants — typically a site of more leniency and indulgence when it comes to health and wellness — can present challenges to consumers trying to stick closely to a specific diet or eating approach.

Much of the departure from normal eating behavior rests on the fact that restaurant occasions are often viewed as special instances where consumers feel like they can or should “cheat” or indulge. This often places foodservice-sourced occasions outside of the normal constraints of a consumer’s particular eating approach.

For consumers pursuing specific diets and eating approaches across diets, dining out is a top situation when eating rules are set aside, though the specific challenges with dining out differ by diet. For diets that rely on the inclusion or exclusion of specific types of food (low carb, whole foods, free-from, vegan or vegetarian, and whatever a consumer’s individual approach may be), the right options may simply not be available on the menu. For example, among consumers who say they followed a low-carb diet in the past year, 27% say a major challenge to their diet is “restaurants often not offering the right food.”

More information on the Food Sourcing in America study is available here.

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