Hi Westerly community! My name is Amanda LaPorte and I am a local nutritionist. I hold a masters in nutritional sciences and am completing my training to become a registered dietitian this spring. As part of this training, I have been working with Westerly over the past few months to compile nutrition information and conduct a nutrient analysis on a sample of the menu offerings. What was the nutrient breakdown of their meals? What were they doing really well and where was there room for improvement? These were questions I kept in mind as I conducted the analysis. Below are some of my key takeaways:
A+ for Variety
Varying the types of fruits, vegetables, and proteins we eat ensures we get the adequate amount of vitamins and minerals we need. Westerly does a stellar job of changing the menu, not only for the variety of meals, but to provide their customers with different types of nutrients. As we nutritionists say, the more color, the better!
Rethink the Meal Composition
I focused mainly on the macronutrient composition, so the carbohydrate, fat, and protein makeup of the meals. Out of the sample of meals I was reviewing, there tended to be a stronger skew towards fat composition over carbohydrate and protein. A balanced meal should typically have a 45-60% carbohydrate, 25-35% fat, and 10-35% protein makeup. I encouraged Westerly to revisit some of their recipes, such as sauces and salad dressings, to see where they could cut down some of the fat content.
After I just finished saying how the fat content was higher than recommended ratios, the TYPES of fats (and carbohydrates and proteins) used are the good kinds! Westerly uses vegetable oil which sometimes has a bad reputation (which is not scientifically backed) when in fact it is one of the healthier options due to its low saturated fat content. Along with their use of healthy fats, they also utilize whole grains which are great sources of fiber. Lastly, mixing up the protein sources through both plant-based and leaner meat options makes for a more well-rounded diet.
Increase Carbohydrate Content
One key recommendation I made was to increase the carbohydrate content (all of diet culture gasped at that). As mentioned earlier, carbs should make up around half of the meal and my findings showed many of the meals to be below this. This observation was further supported by two additional registered dietitians that were sent Westerly meals to review as part of my analysis. The conclusion was that salads needed an increase of the total grain/starch amount. The addition of fruit to each meal was also mentioned, as many Americans do not meet recommended amounts (perhaps due to misconceptions that fruit is bad for you when in reality it lowers mortality rates).
Since I conducted my analysis, Westerly has already reinvented their salad dressing recipes to decrease fat content almost by half. Additionally, they are working to increase carbohydrate portions in the lunch options and add fruit when possible. Their willingness to receive constructive feedback and quickly implement my recommendations speaks to their desire to provide customers with the highest quality products. They have never intended to be a diet plan, their goal has always been to offer deliciously nutritious meals that are to make people’s lives easier, which is exactly what they are doing.