JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A healthy initiative is making the rounds in Jackson County. It all stems from one hospital's efforts to get the community to be more health conscious. From idea to initiative, the Healthy Selections effort started at Singing River Health System's Ocean Springs Hospital.
The mission of the program is to encourage area restaurants to increase their choices of dishes that meet a set of health conscious criteria. These include dished that are 550 calories or less, 20 grams of fat or less, and 600 milligrams of sodium or less.
If a menu item receives the designation of being a healthy selection, Singing River Health System will work with the restaurant to promote it and give it proper signage.
"We want our health system to be known as a health system that really cares about our employees, our patients, everyone in the community," said Lauren McDavid, with SRHS. "We also want our restaurants to take pride in offering these kinds of selections to everyone."
So far, five restaurants have been awarded healthy selection awards in Pascagoula, Gautier, and Ocean Springs.
It's easy to see why Naturel Juice Bar in Ocean Springs is one of the featured restaurants.
"We call this more preventive medicine. We believe this is a way to be healthy. Being healthy helps you enjoy life more with your kids. Being able to see your kids, your grand kids," said Aline Tomajian.
Aline Tomajian and her husband, Dr. Samir Tomajian, took over this cafe with a goal to provide healthy, natural selections and to educate on the benefits of a good diet.
"You can do everything I'm providing here at the café at home. There's no secret about it. We actually encourage people to try at home and do it. That's the whole mission," said Samir.
Another restaurant with a similar goal that landed a healthy selections designation is Eat Drink Love in Ocean Springs. Owner Seth Braden was glad that one of his menu items was chosen for the honor.
"I think it's great. I think a lot of times we live in a food desert where it's nothing but fast food, processed food. It's kind of nice to get back to basics where it's just real food. It's not a crazy concept but a lot of people don't do it," said Braden.
The folks at Singing River Health System are hoping this initiative will change that. SRHS now has a section on its website dedicated to the Healthy Selections initiative.