Diet center: Leader in healthy catering

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Mrs Sawsan Wazzan Jabri co-owner and General manager of Diet center. © Diet Center

1) The Diet center exists since almost 25 years, do you consider yourself as a trend setter in the area of nutrition?

Without a doubt we are. 25 years ago, the concept of healthy catering never existed in Lebanon or any Arab country for the matter. When I fled to the United States during the war in 1988 I saw Diet Centers like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. My husband and I had an idea about starting the same concept in Lebanon. When we came back we indeed followed through with this and now 25 years later we are proudly the leaders in the healthy food catering business. When we opened and slowly built a positive reputation, many other Dietitians followed in suite and opened their own healthy catering centers, but we are the best in Lebanon and the region and I am proud to say, we are a 1 million dollar franchise.

2)  Do you think that nutritional awareness provided since sometime in our country and the Middle East made people begin eating healthy?

Of course, people nowadays are much more aware about the relationship between nutrition and its direct impact on better health especially in the prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases like Heart disease and Diabetes. We at Diet Center also believe that nutritional education and awareness is vital for to help people establish better eating habits and we always conduct (or collaborate on) awareness campaigns lectures and activities to help spread this important message. One of the many projects I am proud of is our collaboration with the European Union to help spread awareness about the Mediterranean Diet in 2013. We conducted many activities for children and lectures for key informants in the Lebanese society. We went to more than 22 municipalities and 33 schools and we were the only Center to participate In this project which expanded to all parts of Lebanon for a duration of 6 months.

3) How do you deal with competition?

It is important to always stay up to date to be able to stay ahead. What we have now works for us but we never stop at it. We always see the latest nutrition research and findings. We update our menu to include more delicious items. We always create new programs like our detox program which helps not only in weight loss but also in cleansing the body and lowering cholesterol due to its vegetarian characteristics. Also, we do more than just catering. We are a well rounded center that is actively working on nutrition research and awareness. For example we are currently conducting a study on our detox program to see its impact on mood weight loss and health benefits with the Lebanese American University. We conduct awareness campaigns and activities such as giving lectures on healthy eating to the students of International College (IC) and interactive activities for preschool children. We believe proper nutrition isn’t just in the food you eat; it’s a way of life. This has allowed us to always stay up to date and be ahead of our competitors

4)Is Lebanon the most important country regarding turnover, or franchises in the Arab world realize better figures?

There are many factors that make it more difficult to sustain a business in Lebanon compared to other Arab franchises. Starting with the high cost of food, and we at Diet Center do not compromise quality for the sake of cutting costs. Also the unstable political situation and sudden wars or bombings can take a serious toll on the business. Despite all of this we pull through and manage even in the toughest situations

5) Where do you get your inspiration to create new recipes?

For me the sky is the limit. No matter how great my recipes are I always like to find or create new ones and experiment with different tastes and flavors. If only you could see the never-ending library I have of cookbooks! I also consult the chef and the quality control managers to help in coming up with healthiest and tastiest recipes. I also have a research department and Dietitian that are solely responsible for recipe and menu development as a delicious and healthy menu is an indispensible element to the success of my business.