THE MAJORITY of consumers today are well aware of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle but, when it comes to the question of nutrition and health, one has to wonder whether we are equally cognisant of just how important nutrition is within the nutrition, health and wellness equation.
Nestlé Professional®, through its Toque dOr programme, has positioned itself at the forefront of Nutrition, Health and Wellness education by collaborating with the British Nutrition Foundation to develop an on-line training course, which is available now via www.nestle-toquedor.co.uk .
The six-module course, covers the following topics: eating and drinking well, energy and nutrients, nutritional needs of the individual, diet and lifestyle, understanding food labels and catering for health. Each of the six modules takes about 40-60 minutes to complete and delivers a comprehensive overview of nutrition.
According to Neil Stephens, Managing Director of Nestlé Professional®, nutrition, health and wellness should all go hand in hand. You can produce food that is inherently healthier or more nutritious he says; by removing or reducing certain public health sensitive nutrients such as salt, sugars or saturated fat. However, it is often found that with a reduction of these nutrients, more technical innovation needs to go into producing a product of superior quality that tastes great and that has a better balance of nutrients overall. It is also important to be aware of how food and beverage products can fit into an overall healthy diet or indeed a healthier meal occasion.
Stephens believes that nutrition is a vital and not especially well understood - element, and an area that manufacturers and suppliers should put more emphasis on when it comes to educating the consumer.
Several initiatives, including the obesity debate, Governments Public Health Responsibility Deal, and societys increasing desire for transparency have all been well-documented and this has been combined with industry improvements in the areas of health and nutrition. This, combined with an increased awareness of nutrition, health and wellness by consumers and an increased interest by the media and NGOs means that it can be an area of confusion especially to those starting out in the catering arena.
Education says Stephens, is key. In essence, theres really no escaping the fundamental need for everyone working in the industry to have, at the very least, a basic knowledge of what is meant by nutrition, health and wellness. But it needs to go further than this. There needs to be an understanding of how to bring this to life through ones day to day operations be that from the perspective of an ingredients provider or manufacturer or an operator tasked with serving healthier and more balanced meals, that will keep the customer coming back for more.
In Stephens opinion, its all about achieving the delicate balance of nutrition + quality + taste. And this requires skill, which in turn, requires knowledge and understanding, which can only be gained by education.
Stephens concludes: As part of an industry synonymous with food and by its very nature, health, we have a responsibility to set an example and in doing so, educate others. But first we must educate ourselves. This new training course is just one tool that can help industry develop the necessary skills and information related to food and nutrition, health and wellness; ultimately empowering us to work together to really take control of an agenda that will always be fundamental not only to the foodservice and hospitality industries, but to life itself.
The course, which costs £25 per head (payable to the British Nutrition Foundation), is available now by visiting www.nestle-toquedor.co.uk