According to the International Food Information Council Federation, more than one-third (35%) of Americans follow a special diet. The most popular diets include Paleo, Whole30, and ketogenic (keto) with 7%, 5%, and 3% of Americans participating respectively. With so many different diets and lifestyles, it’s no surprise that restaurants are taking notice and trying to accomodate to them. By marketing to customers following specific diets, you can reach more customers, and effectively increase your revenue.

What Does a Paleo, Whole 30, or Keto Diet Look Like?

The paleo diet attempts to mimic the eating habits of those who lived during the paleolithic era. It consists of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds—all of which could have been obtained by hunter-gatherers. The diet excludes dairy, legumes, and grains. 

Whole30 is similar to paleo, but is more extreme and only intended to last 30 days. Adherents have the same dietary restrictions as Paleo, plus an added exclusion of natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. The most important part of this diet is the aftermath. Diet participants are expected to gradually reintroduce food groups they cut out, and determine whether or not their body reacts to them well. 

The keto diet differs from both paleo and Whole30. It involves the consumption of high-fat and low-carb foods — diet participants can eat all the butter and cheese they want, but hardly any carbs. The goal of keto is to force the body into a state of ketosis, where fat is burned for energy instead of carbs.

Simple Ways to Accommodate Diets

It’s important to note that many paleo, keto, and Whole30 dishes can be made from ingredients that are already used in dishes on your menu. Review your existing offerings and highlight items that may fall under these new categories. For example, promoting a lettuce-bun modification as keto-friendly or simple chicken dishes as paleo-friendly can be an excellent way of providing value to customers. You can even offer keto or paleo swaps to regular dishes, but be sure to make it clear on your menu. Cooking for special diets does not need to come at an extra cost.

Benefits of Marketing to Specialized Diets

Adjusting a menu to accommodate popular diets is great, but in order to attract and engage with a wider range of customers, you need to market your menu. If you aren’t marketing yourself, how would anyone know they can eat at your restaurant? By including terms like “paleo” and “keto” into the menu or social media posts, restaurants can reach niche audiences that would normally be overlooked. Publicizing your speciality menu items, lets people know that they can eat there without worry. 

As more Americans continue to diet, restaurants should adapt to the growing trend. Make sure that your business stays ahead of the curve. Educate your staff on dietary restrictions and your restaurant’s flexibility, and market this to existing and potential customers. By training your staff on these popular diets and marketing your restaurant’s workability, you can better serve your customers and yourself.