Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smart Meal featured in Denver Post

Colorado's Smart Meal program works with restaurants to offer healthy menu items

By Karen Auge, Denver Post
There's a big red panel truck rolling through Denver these days, admonishing you to "eat like there's a tomorrow."
If you see it, following that truck might be a good idea because the people inside give away free food. Not just any food, but food that won't give you a bigger pants size or cause you to fall asleep at your desk an hour after you eat it.
In other words, food that is good for you.
This free, healthy food comes to you courtesy of the state health department's new Smart Meal program.
The program, funded with a $200,000 Colorado Health Foundation grant, gives restaurants a chance to have a Smart Meal designation on menu items that meet calorie and nutrition criteria.
So far, 150 restaurants — including Garbanzo Mediterranean and BeauJo's Pizza — are participating, said Shana Patterson, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment dietitian who created the program.
To get the Smart Meal blessing, a menu item must have at least two servings of beans, whole grains, fruits or vegetables; fewer than 700 calories; no trans fat; and fewer than 1,350 milligrams of sodium.
Was that 1,350 milligrams of sodium?
That seems like a lot, Patterson agreed, until you realize how much salt can be in restaurant meals: "Believe it or not, this is actually pushing them in right direction."
Patterson concedes that just telling people what's best for them won't make broccoli overtake French fries in popularity.
"We are simply trying first and foremost to raise awareness for customers so they know they have an option," she said.

Read more: Colorado's Smart Meal program works with restaurants to offer healthy menu items - The Denver Post 

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