How to meet the nutritional needs of different customers (2023)

There has never been such a wide range of different dietary needs, and as restaurants we need to be aware of them and accommodate them with relative ease, without making the customer uncomfortable or self-conscious.

Many large chains (for example,Pizza Hut and Price) and top restaurants have become more aware and offer additional or alternative meal options for various dietary requirements.

Offering a menu with many options for people with different dietary needs makes perfect sense. You maximize your customers' potential, but you also create a positive and satisfying restaurant customer persona. In other words, not only is it good for the customer, but it also improves brand reputation and increases revenue.

As well as being a decent gesture to customers, it is also imperative that your business adhere to dietary requirements due to legal implications, especially with allergies.

A terrifying example enteredJanuary 2014, when Mr. Paul Wilson, from Helperby, North Yorkshire, died as a result of anaphylactic shock following a severe reaction to peanuts.

Despite asking for a 'nut free' meal and the order being clearly marked on the lid of his food, Mr. Wilson received a chicken tikka masala which contained peanuts.

The restaurant from which Wilson ordered his meal was the Indian Garden in Easingwold and the owner, Mr. Mohammed Zaman, was subsequently convicted at Teeside Crown Court of manslaughter and jailed for six years.

How to meet the nutritional needs of different customers (1)

Dietary needs are the needs of someone who has a specific and/or restricted diet.

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Another case came backNovember 2011when celiac disease sufferer Christy Richardson told three employees at a Jamie Oliver restaurant in Portsmouth that she needed another plate of gluten-free pasta, she was served plain pasta. This resulted in him becoming violently ill for five hours afterwards. A court battle ensued, and in April 2013 the company pleaded guilty to selling food that was not of the nature, substance or quality requested by the buyer, a breach ofFood Safety Act 1990.

With all of this in mind, it's imperative that you, your business, and your customers ask, listen, and meet all nutritional requirements.

What are the nutritional requirements?

Dietary needs are the needs of someone who has a specific and/or restricted diet.

Some of the most common dietary requirements are those based on religious or allergy-related reasons.


Allergies are very common. A food allergy is when the body's immune system reacts badly to a certain food. Food allergies can be mild, but in some cases they can be very serious and sometimes life-threatening if the restaurant goes into anaphylactic shock. Some of the most common food allergies are:

  • Milk (usually in children)
  • Eggs
  • peanut
  • Nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, Brazil nuts and walnuts
  • strawberries
  • Military
  • Wheat and other gluten-containing grains, including barley, rye and oats
  • Pisces (usually in adults)
  • Clamshell (usually in adults)


Food intolerances are generally less severe than food allergies, and symptoms are usually centered in the digestive system. Although they are less serious than allergies, they are not to be taken lightly as they can be uncomfortable and painful for the sufferer.

Some common food intolerances are:

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  • Milk and derivatives (lactose intolerance)
  • Gluten/Colic

Religious dietary restrictions and guidelines

Islamic Diet: Halal

This Muslim diet dictates that only meat from animals slaughtered according to strict guidelines may be consumed. Pork is notoriously off-limits. as well as alcohol. There are also some strict guidelines for fasting during the holidays, especially Ramadan, but this won't affect you as a business.

Judaic Diet: Kosher

Pork and seafood are commonly known to be prohibited on a strict Jewish/kosher diet. Only meat from ritually slaughtered animals (similar to Halal but not the same) is suitable for consumption by an observant Jew. Another major consideration of the kosher diet is that mixing meat with milk is strictly prohibited.


Many Hindus follow a lacto-vegetarian diet (no meat or eggs, but do eat dairy products).

Beef in particular is not eaten as the cow is considered a sacred animal by Hindu followers.

There are several fasts throughout the year with specific restrictions, such as eating only plants.


Different sects of Christianity have varying dietary needs and customs vary accordingly.

But as a property they won't/shouldn't affect what you offer in your menus.


Sikhs generally follow a lacto-vegetarian diet.

(Video) Healthy Aging with Nutrition

Some other religious diets to keep in mind are:


Mormons are prohibited from consuming alcohol and caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.).

Rastafari: Italy

Rastafarians can eat lightly cooked food. Meat is not consumed and canned goods are avoided. In general, the Rastafarian diet is vegetarian and pork is prohibited.


There are no clear rules about food in Buddhism, but because of its teachings many are vegetarian.


Jains follow strict rules to protect all forms of life. Strict Jains do not eat meat, poultry, fish or eggs and sometimes milk. They can avoid eating root vegetables as the entire plant is killed when the root is dug up.

How can you meet these requirements?

Meeting these vast, diverse, and sometimes complex nutritional requirements can seem a little daunting, but it doesn't have to be. If airlines serving hot food at 39,000 feet in the air can meet most of these needs, then so can you. In this way, you will improve your restaurant's reach, visibility, reputation and, ultimately, sales.

check your menu

Look closely at your menu, the meals and the ingredients that make them up.

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You will be surprised how many dishes are already vegetarian, gluten-free, lacto-free, etc.

Confirm details with your chef and/or caterer for clarification if necessary.

Once you've identified certain dishes, you can highlight the suitability of your nutritional needs in the menu description or with the commonnutritional requirements iconsand do not forgetadd an optical keyfor those.

Beware of cross contamination

Most, if not all, dietary requirements need some care when it comes to cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is a high risk for many with food allergies, so it's something that shouldn't be taken lightly. Using a spoon to stir a meat sauce and using it later for a vegetarian soup is wrong and not good. Note that kosher food prohibits mixing milk with meat. It might be a good idea to have a set of cookware just for vegetables - if you intend to cover that market.

Create new menu offerings

Work with your chef to come up with new options that allow your menu to be more appealing to people with dietary needs. For halal and kosher meals, it's a good idea to talk to your supplier or find a supplier that specializes in halal or kosher production.

Expand your vegetarian and vegan dishes

By simply expanding your vegetarian and vegan options, you automatically serve others with dietary needs. For example, many observant Jews eat vegetarian meals when they are out and about. With a wider selection of vegetarian meals, you'll make the menu more accessible to Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Jains, Rastafarians, Sikhs and, of course, vegetarians.

train your team

Make sure your chefs and servers are up to date with new menu changes and update them on each of the dietary requirements and what they mean.

This helps chefs be mindful of what and how they are cooking and also the wait staff will be able to understand a diner's needs when asked "do you have anything gluten free?".

Make sure the person on the phone who is handling reservations and inquiries is aware of your restaurant's dietary needs and options. Before making reservations, those with dietary concerns will often ask about meal options, so be prepared.


Share your restaurant's new menu changes/additions on your company's social media pages. Show how they are suitable for vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, nut-free, etc. diets.

Make sure your new menus have the appropriate nutritional requirement icons, such asthose.

Be open to comments

People are very aware of what they eat and when it comes to allergies, religions, beliefs and intolerances it is even more serious. Accept criticism and comments positively. It is an opportunity to improve and create a positive image of opening your food to meet a wide range of dietary needs.

If you can better serve people with dietary needs, you will not only build a positive reputation as an inclusive operator, but also increase foot traffic and generate more revenue. Talk tomember of our friendly expertteam to see how we can help you create practical solutions to these problems.

(Video) LECTURE 27 2 Meeting Nutritional Needs


What is the best way to meet your nutrient needs? ›

To meet your body's regular nutritional needs, you should consume:
  • a wide variety of nutritious foods.
  • water on a daily basis.
  • enough kilojoules for energy, with carbohydrates as the preferred source.
  • essential fatty acids from foods such as oily fish, nuts, avocado.
  • adequate protein for cell maintenance and repair.

How can you ensure you receive all the different nutrients you need? ›

Getting them through food ensures your body can absorb them properly. Try to eat a variety of foods to get different vitamins and minerals. Foods that naturally are nutrient-rich include fruits and vegetables. Lean meats, fish, whole grains, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds also are high in nutrients.

What are 3 ways you can help support the client's nutritional status? ›

Responding to nutrition and hydration issues
  • Key messages.
  • Make nutrition and hydration a team priority.
  • Help at meal times.
  • Motivate the patient.
  • Manage medications.
  • Consider the patient's mood.
  • Get them moving.
  • Provide required protein.
Oct 5, 2015

How to meet the needs of customers with special dietary requirements? ›

They include:
  1. Do your research. Find out what restrictions and special requests you get most often at your restaurant. ...
  2. Revamp your menu. ...
  3. Dedicate space and tools. ...
  4. Partner with locals. ...
  5. Use icons to label specialty diet items. ...
  6. Have a list of ingredients readily available. ...
  7. Send out the chef.

Why is it important to meet nutritional needs? ›

People with healthy eating patterns live longer and are at lower risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. For people with chronic diseases, healthy eating can help manage these conditions and prevent complications.

Why do different people have different nutritional needs? ›

Nutrient requirements vary between individuals according to, for example, age, gender, level of activity and health. The ways in which people meet these requirements also vary. There is no ideal or universal dietary pattern and the body is wonderfully adaptive.

How do you create a nutrition plan for clients? ›

What to Consider Before Writing a Meal Plan for Clients
  1. What are your existing fitness goals?
  2. Do you have any allergies?
  3. Do you have any cultural food preferences?
  4. Which foods do you like and dislike?
  5. How Often Do You Exercise?
  6. How much time do you spend cooking?
  7. What is your weekly food budget?
Feb 17, 2022

How can you add more nutrition to a clients diet? ›

Ten strategies for making positive dietary changes
  1. Keep an eye on excess sugar consumption. ...
  2. Moderate intake of high-starch carbohydrates. ...
  3. Trim the fat. ...
  4. Include long-chain Omega 3s. ...
  5. Keep food toxicants away. ...
  6. Increase fibre and antioxidant intake. ...
  7. Keep salt at bay. ...
  8. Drink wisely.

How would you handle a customer with special needs? ›

Look at your customer, but don't stare. Speak directly to a person with a disability, not to their interpreter or someone who is with them. Use plain language and speak in short sentences. Don't touch or address service animals – they are working and have to pay attention at all times.

How would you promote adequate nutrition and hydration for your customer? ›

Here are some tips:
  • Offer plenty of food choice. None of us want to eat the same food, day in day out. ...
  • Balanced meals. ...
  • Supervise meal times. ...
  • Care plans. ...
  • Monitor weights. ...
  • Offer supplements. ...
  • Dehydration – the risk factors. ...
  • Signs of dehydration.
Aug 23, 2018

Why is it important to make sure the nutritional needs of the client are being met as part of your care and activity work? ›

This helps the body grow new cells, maintain normal body function, and have energy for activities. Proper nutrition in childhood and early adulthood helps ensure good health later in life. For the ill or elderly, a well-balanced diet helps maintain muscle and skin tissues and prevents pressure ulcers.

What is the most important of nutrition? ›

Water is probably the most important essential nutrient that a person needs. A person can only survive a few days without consuming water. Even slight dehydration can cause headaches and impaired physical and mental functioning. The human body is made up of mostly water, and every cell requires water to function.

Do different people have different dietary needs? ›

While protein and fat requirements vary a bit depending on gender and life stage (babies and young children need a bit more of each), the recommendations for adults do not vary anywhere near the extent to which we humans currently vary our diets.

What is a plan of care for nutrition? ›

A nutrition care plan (NCP) is a detailed plan or road map created by a dietitian that includes information about the intended plan of care for the patient. A dietitian will gather information about a patient from their medical chart, face-to-face meetings, lab work, anthropometrics, and other methods to create an NCP.

How do nutritionists help clients? ›

Dietitians and nutritionists counsel clients on nutrition issues and healthy eating habits. Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They plan and conduct food service or nutritional programs to help people lead healthy lives.

What strategies can we use to improve nutrition in elderly people? ›

How can I eat healthy as I age?
  • Eat foods that give you lots of nutrients without a lot of extra calories, such as. ...
  • Avoid empty calories. ...
  • Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat. ...
  • Drink enough liquids, so you don't get dehydrated. ...
  • Be physically active.
May 30, 2019

How do you evaluate a new clients nutritional needs? ›

First, performing an anthropometric assessment. These are the basic quantitative data you'd expect any nutrition coach to collect: height, weight, girth, and body composition. From this data, you can calculate things like BMI or assess body fat percentage against the body fat scale we discussed in an earlier lesson.

How do you plan to improve your nutrition and diet plans? ›

A healthy eating plan:
  1. Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  2. Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
  3. Limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.
  4. Controls portion sizes.

Can you get all the nutrients you need from supplements? ›

It's possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don't have to take one,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to NIH. “But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”

What is the best way to make sure you get all the necessary amount of vitamins to maintain health and allow growth? ›

Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and cereals, lean meats and reduced fat dairy products will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs, at the right level and in the right balance. There are 13 vitamins in total – 8 of these come from the B-group of vitamins.

Can you get all the nutrients you need from vitamins? ›

Overview. Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly. Most people should be able to get all the nutrients they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you choose to take vitamin and mineral supplements, seek advice where appropriate.


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