Denny’s Gets a Makeover: Are They Leading a Trend?

Denny's introduces its Fit Fare menu

A while back I slammed Denny's pretty hard for "making us fat" with their somewhat amazing menu item: a grilled cheese sandwich with cheese sticks layered inside.  Now Denny's is introducing "Fit Fare" menu items and it's a step in the right direction. Here are two examples from their new menu:
  • The Fit Fare Slam is scrambled egg whites, fresh spinach, grape tomatoes, two turkey bacon strips, and an English muffin coming in at 450 calories, 27 grams of protein, 12 g of fat and 5 g fiber.
  • The Harvest Oatmeal Breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal with fresh apples, dried cranberries, brown sugar, and milk on the side with two strips of turkey bacon and a side of seasonal fruit to complete your meal. The tally for this breakfast is 490 calories, 11 g fat, 16 grams of protein, and an impressive 9 grams of fiber.
Eh, Denny's has done okay ... I'd ditch the bacon entirely (turkey only slightly improves the health benefits, if at all) and I'd ditch the English muffin from the first meal and cut back on the sugar in the second meal.  Fit Fare lunch items include a Cranberry Apple Chicken Salad and a Chicken Avocado Sandwich.  Guests can also ask for "Fit Fare" upgrades, ordering regular menu items and asking for say an egg white-only omelet instead of the usual preparation. These offerings run counter to their recent Baconalia menu, an ode to all things bacon which is decidedly less healthy and features menu options like a Maple Bacon Sundae and the Ultimate Bacon Breakfast, which includes six strips (I'm a little nauseous, as I type this ... and I like bacon). Still, if I'm on the road and find myself at a Denny's, I know I can navigate the menu and not damage my diet.  That's a step in the right direction.  It's also nice to see the restaurant chain promoting a healthy lifestyle.  If you see flyers when you go in to eat, it might make you pause before you order piles of bacon and sausage and egg sandwiches.  Even if you don't choose a healthy menu item, maybe you won't choose a really unhealthy option. Perhaps the next step is to market an "Athlete's Breakfast" with egg whites, spinach, and some fruit.  I'd be doing a little victory dance over that! What do you think?  Is Denny's putting lipstick on a pig or is it listening to its consumers and trying to improve its menu choices?  Do you think having healthy items on a menu matters much?  Or will people just order all the fattening stuff anyway?  Let's start the discussion ... Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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4 Responses to Denny’s Gets a Makeover: Are They Leading a Trend?

  1. Tara Burner July 2, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    lipstick on a pig….

    and sadly the majority of people who are eating out aren’t going to pay attention to the ‘healthier fare’…they’re going to get sucked in by the ewwwwwwww dare I say it….bacon sundae?!

    sorry but I cant remember the last time I was in a Denny’s…at least 14 yrs ago?!
    Something about that place just creeps me out…
    even before the bacon sundae which just grosses me out!

    could just be the pessimistic side of me, but seriously those who eat there aren’t really thinking about their health or healthy food choices…least in my opinion.

  2. Lisa Johnson July 2, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    I wonder how many see the healthier stuff and order the bacon-extravaganza anyway … L–

  3. Tara Burner July 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I know a friend of mine went in specifically for the bacon sundae grossness and normally she eats fairly healthy but she said she “had” to try it….and while she said it wasn’t ‘her thing’ she did admit to eating ALL of it! :(

  4. Lisa Rudolph July 3, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    I live in Indianapolis, Indiana and was happy to choose the new fit fare omelet this morning. The meal touted an egg white omelet with tomatoes, spinach, onions and cheese alongside two strips of turkey bacon and a cup of fresh fruit. Sounds healthy, right? But my food arrived swimming in butter! There was-no exaggeration-a full tablespoon on my plate. Gross! I would get it again, but be sure to ask for no butter/oil prep and also no cheese. Very disappointing for a WW point counter too!

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