There’s a wind of change sweeping across Dubai’s burger and fast food-packed dining landscape. A move towards healthy eating. Dubai is seeing more and more juicing joints, raw food offerings, and trending foods like bone broth and kombucha.
But one woman has been on a quiet mission, since 2004, to bring healthy, fresh, unprocessed food to the masses. Meet Right Bite Founder and Managing Director, Nathalie Haddad, a dietician turned healthy food evangelist…
When did you set up Right Bite?
We started in 2004. I am a dietician, and I used to counsel people on healthy eating. I would advise people on how to eat a healthier diet, but realised the availability of healthy food was limited back then. We looked at portion sizes and variety of food, and wanted to become the experts in making tasty, healthy food.
In the fickle Dubai food market, what’s your advice for survival?
Stay focused on what you are doing. Learn to juggle a lot of different roles. Stay focused on what you believe in.
What are your most popular dishes?
We have quite a lot of popular dishes. We continually develop our dishes, for our international audience. We have local, Indian and European customers, and our international team of chefs reflect this diversity of tastes. Favourites include biryani, chicken and mashed potato and rice and fish. Our desserts are well loved, and we use all natural ingredients, and less salt, fat and sugar. Nothing here is deep fried.
Are you seeing a move towards veganism and raw foods?
There’s a growing percentage of people interested in this diet. We have provided vegetarian options since we started, and we are now teaming up with experts in raw food to explore the possibilities.
We believe in doing what we know best. We will always develop our menus based on market demands – as long as we agree with it from a nutritional standpoint.
Where is your meat sourced from? Can it be classed as ‘healthy’?
Obviously, high quality is important to us. Our meat and chicken are sourced locally, and are very high quality.
How are your nutrition figures calculated for each dish?
Dieticians are very much involved. We own software that analyses each recipe. The chefs create recipes, which are then analysed for nutritional value and health. We will then tweak the recipes to make them healthy, or healthier. We would get into trouble if we declared the calorie content of a dish, and it was wrong.
Do people lose weight following your meal plans? Can you share any success stories?
We have so many success stories! Weight loss, confidence, a new approach to life and eating…
Because we have been in the market so long, we can judge people’s needs and understand their history very quickly.
We focus on long-term goals, not short-term success. Our success is seen across the board – in women, men and children. This is extremely important to us – to feel like we are having a genuine impact on people’s lives. It’s good to know we have changed the way children look at food – creating new habits and different attitudes from a young age.
How is Right Bite Express going?
We started this service a few years ago, in trying to adapt to market changes. We simply want to be able to give people that on-demand delivery service they are used to with other food outlets. We are launching new and different services soon.
What one food do you think people should cut out?
Fried and processed foods.
Would you open a restaurant? How about a food truck?
We have! Nathalie’s in Sports City, opened two years ago. It’s not a ‘diet’ restaurant, but a healthy place to eat.
A food truck is an idea that we have gone back and forth with for many years, we would do it, but it would be our proper food take on ‘street food’.
What do you eat? Take us through your perfect day in terms of food…
Honestly, I live on Right Bite food for 90% of the time. A typical day might be oatmeal, toast and peanut butter or cereal for breakfast. I like small portions, but several times a day. Lunch could be chicken or fish with rice or sweet potato. An afternoon snack is important – I have a small handful of nuts or a yogurt, and soup, chicken or fish in the evening. I avoid carbs at night. I’m pretty active, especially with two kids. We live near the beach, and have active lifestyles.
Favourite place to eat in Dubai?
I’m my own chef! I love eating at home, or Right Bite food. But I love sushi, and Teatro (at the Towers Rotana Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road) is one of my favourite restaurants.
Which country’s food do you think is healthiest?
The cuisine here in the Middle East – it has a lot of vegetables and a lot of high fibre dishes.