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How to Include Pizza In a Healthy Diet

January 13 2016 by Nick Charles

Include_Pizza_In_Healthy_Diet.jpgRecently, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reported that more than two thirds of adults and about one third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that pizza doesn’t have to contribute to these weighty statistics. If prepared and portioned correctly, pizza can provide calcium, protein and energy-packed carbs without being a diet-buster.

The Skinny on FDA Requirements

Starting this year, the FDA is requiring that chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations have direct and accessible nutrition information available for their customers. Listing calorie counts on menus and menu boards will go a long way towards compliance, but the FDA mandate also requires restaurants be ready with written documentation should customers request information about:

  • Total calories
  • Calories from fat
  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Total carbohydrates
  • Fiber
  • Sugar
  • Protein

If you’re an independent pizzeria owner or run a shop that’s part of a chain with fewer than 20 locations, you have no legal obligation to follow the mandate. However, nutritional information is just as valuable to your patrons. Choosing to provide it shows that you care, which is both conscientious customer service and a powerful loyalty booster. 

Empower Your Patrons

Your restaurant can be a place of pizza positivity when you give patrons guilt-free choices.

“Better For You” Crusts and Toppings

Swapping out thick, double or cheese-stuffed crusts for healthful alternatives immediately slices calories and sodium. Offer these flavor-packed options:

  • Flatbread: hand-stretched, delicate and crispy
  • Cracker thin: crunchy, light and satisfying
  • Whole grain: introduces filling, but not necessarily fattening, grains 

Give your patrons good-choice toppings, too, like:

  • Fiber-rich onions, green peppers, fresh mushrooms, black olives, tomatoes, artichokes, spinach and broccoli
  • Lower-fat meats such as turkey sausage or chicken
  • Cheese substitutes like vegan options, lower-cal Ricotta instead of mozzarella, or a reduced amount of cheese – maybe even cheese-less

Side Orders of Nutrition

Don’t give calorie-counting patrons a reason to skip profitable sides. Offer these suggestions to round out their nutritious meal:

  • Provide mixed greens salads or veggie plates instead of bread- or cheese-based appetizers
  • Promote not-so-naughty beverages like light beers or low-cal wines over free ice water
  • Recommend entrée-sized salads as an alternative to pizza 

“Healthy” is on the Menu

Use your menu to encourage nutritious patron picks (and healthier sales):

  • Include attention-getting icons, callouts, colors and special sections
  • Use adjectives that imply health conscious like “lighter fare,” “quality local ingredients” and “fresh”
  • Announce menu additions on social media along with coupons to induce trial of your leaner cuisine

Ready to bulk up sales with slimmed-down pies and sides? Download our new eBook, How Pizza Fits Into Healthy Lifestyles, for tips, insights and lighter fare pizza recipes. Get your free copy by clicking the button below.

How Pizza Fits Into Healthy Lifestyles


Categories: Menus & Recipes

Nick Charles

Written by Nick Charles

President, Alive & Kickin' Pizza Crust
Nick has been in the pizza dough business for more than 20 years. He heads up the company’s customer development and service (making sure they’re always happy with our product and our processes) and manages the overall business. It’s a big job, and he’s the right guy to do it!