Celiac.com 07/06/2012 - More and more, diners are looking for healthy, local and gluten-free options when deciding where to dine out, analysts say.

Photo: CC--SerenaeDiners also want less salt and fat, and more spice in their food, although they are open to bite-sized dessert options.

Restaurant owners say business is good these days as more people are choosing to spend any extra dollars on food and beverages.

According to the 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast by the National Restaurant Association, total restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record $632 billion in 2012, a 3.5 percent increase from 2011.

Nearly three out of four people who dine out are looking to maker healthier restaurant choices than they did just two years ago, said the industry forecast.

Most restaurants surveyed said customers are in fact ordering the healthier items on the menu. That includes shunning that full slice of cheesecake for a bite-sized version that offers less total fat and sugar.

In December, the National Restaurant Association released the results of their "What's Hot in 2012" survey, which revealed that consumers have become more aware of where their meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and even alcoholic beverages are being produced. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they're more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally produced food items.

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