These days, everyone is on a health kick. It’s a new year, and of course people’s resolutions are to be healthy. People start going to the gym again, throw the processed junk food out and replace the food in their refrigerators with all things organic. People want to start off the new year right, help their bodies and make their fresh start to the new year a positive one.

Chain restaurants, like Panera and Papa John’s, are getting rid of unhealthy ingredients in their menu items. ILLUSTRATION BY KESLEY CRONIN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Chain restaurants, like Panera and Papa John’s, are getting rid of unhealthy ingredients in their menu items. ILLUSTRATION BY KESLEY CRONIN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

This mentality is shared by restaurants. It has become a trend to clean up menus by eliminating artificial ingredients. Restaurants want to appeal to their consumer base, so they remove preservatives, additives, sweeteners and food coloring from their ingredients. This change has benefitted them tremendously, especially with people’s new health regiments.

Chain restaurants like Noodles and Company, Panera Bread, Papa John’s and Smiling Moose Rocky Mountain Deli have taken serious measures to invest in the future health of their consumers. Papa John’s even invested $100 million to eliminate 14 unhealthy ingredients by the end of the year, recognizing the significance of bettering its menu and making an effort to appeal to many consumers’ new lifestyles.

Studies have shown that millennials and members of “Generation Z” are the consumers advocating change and causing restaurants to make their menus healthier. These generations are the ones who want fresh ingredients and healthier meals, and they are willing to pay for the better lifestyle. In the past few years, superfoods like kale, blueberries and salmon have become the food to eat. People want to be healthy, and it has become an appealing lifestyle.

These days, the restaurants that appear to not be doing well are the ones that have not made the effort to change their menus. It has nearly become a necessity that food chains, delis, restaurants and the like invest in changing their ingredients and fixing up their menu’s because people want to eat healthy, and most are not willing to pay for the greasy, fatty, frozen or unhealthy ingredients. In terms of marketing, it is also important that restaurants do this, as it is the only way to bring consumers in.

I know for myself, social media and countless articles about new ways to eat healthy have always encouraged me to only buy fresh and healthy ingredients. Eating healthy is fun, feels good and provides so many different recipes that taste delicious and use the best ingredients. It is a lifestyle that makes your body feel alive and energized, and I think it is so crucial that people who have not changed their lifestyle do so. Eating healthy is not difficult. It is about making smart choices and having everything in moderation. The difference a healthy lifestyle makes in your ability to be fit and fuel your mind is infinitely better than the feeling your body has after eating fried chicken or a cheeseburger.

It is so crucial that restaurants are making the change and investing in the health of our future. It is worth every penny and will only keep our world more alive by fueling consumers with the best ingredients they can eat.