The REAL Criteria encourage serving and promoting nutrient-dense foods using healthful preparation methods. For example, providing a full serving of non deep-fried produce with entrées and children’s meals is a significant component of the criteria. As part of the certification process, REAL RDs review the types of oils used in preparing foods, awarding points for utilizing healthful, plant-based oils containing predominantly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Establishments also earn points for scratch cooking that eliminates the use of highly processed food additives and artificial ingredients. Additionally, offering whole grains, modest and multiple portion sizes and unsweetened beverages are also included in the nutrition-focused KPIs of the REAL Criteria.