Do Calorie Counts on a Menu Help You Cut?

28 Jul

ABC News: NYC Menu Calorie Counts No Formula for Calorie Cutting

New York City began requiring fast food and chain restaurants to post their calorie counts on their menus last year. Only about 1 in 6 people changed their orders based on the information and even then only cut their calorie intake by about 100 calories. The top 3 chains that recorded drops in their lunch calorie orders were McDonald’s, KFC and Au Bon Pain.

I know when I go out to a chain restaurant for lunch at work, I tend to look up my calorie information beforehand. Almost all of the chains have the information on their websites, and this prevents me from ordering something impulsively that is a lot higher in calories. I personally think all states should make this a law like New York did.

The first step is getting the information out there. Then hopefully people can be educated to pay attention to it. I think knowing the calorie count can stop you from ordering certain foods. For example, when I was overweight, I would religiously order milkshakes from Culver’s. I love ice cream, my absolute favorite thing in the world. At the time, I thought a milkshake was 300 – 400 calories thinking no big deal. Well, it turns out a small milkshake is about 860 calories. As soon as I saw that, I stopped ordering them except for maybe 2 – 3 times a year instead of 2 – 3 times a week. I still have to have my milkshake, but it’s a special treat now because I know what’s in it.

Most people are probably like I was. You get a number in your head that sounds good for the calorie content of a meal and you go with it until you see the real number. This would definitely help our obesity epidemic if this information could be more readily available.

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6 Responses to “Do Calorie Counts on a Menu Help You Cut?”

  1. Selvinas July 29, 2011 at 11:27 AM #

    When I go out to eat I don’t want to worry about how many calories a meal has. I also think it’s not neccesary as long as you’re eating a healthy meal with enough vegetables in it.

    I think for fastfood chains it could be helpful to know how many calories a meal has. Maybe instead of eating breakfast at McDonald’s people will eat somewhere else once they see how calorie filled it is.

  2. laurapayette July 29, 2011 at 7:50 PM #

    In general, restaurant meals are pretty bad for you. In addition to high calorie counts, they’re full of fat and sodium. I definitely change my order when I look at nutritional information in advance. Part of the battle is knowing in the first place what a normal calorie range for you is, though.

    Did you hear about the 19 chain restaurants that are adding lower-calorie items to their kids menus? I think it’s a good gesture, but setting the upper threshold at 600 calories seems high to me.

    http://www.everwell.com/insights/health_hits/chain_restaurants_kids_menu_healthy.php

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/estimated-calorie-requirement

    • Selvinas July 30, 2011 at 4:08 AM #

      Well, I think maybe that’s the difference between countries. I know that when I eat out most things are relatively healthy. Of course, if you get a lot of fried food or food with sauce then it’s not. But as long as you stick to veggies they should not have that much fat in them.

      Also, I think that even if the meal does have a lot of calories and is unhealthy, it’s alright because normally people don’t eat out that much. As long as you eat healthy at home you should be fine.

  3. Hannah July 30, 2011 at 2:46 AM #

    They don’t put calories on menus here but I think I would read them if they do. I LOVE béarnaise sauce and know it has a bazillion calorites, but I never have to worry too much about it when I order from a restaurant here because it is always on the side and never a giant portion. Those two things help me the most when I go out to eat and want to indulge a little bit.

  4. Noel D. July 31, 2011 at 12:52 PM #

    What’s unfortunate is that many restaurants’ “healthy options” are fairly deceptive. If you go and look at the calorie information online, meals that appear to be healthier like salads are higher in calories than a cheeseburger. Also, restaurants over compensate with massive amounts of salt on their grilled items to make up the flavor. Often veggies are cooked in oil with salt thus adding more calories. I think all restaurants need to adopt the calorie listing policy so you really, truly know what you’re getting.

    • Hannah August 1, 2011 at 2:16 AM #

      That seems like a great idea. I think when we go out to eat, we think of the restaurant cooking things in a similar way to how we cook at home when in reality they’re putting a LOT more oil, salt, and other ‘flavor enhancing’ ingredients on their food. It is definitely misleading. (and ps…do I ever need to spell check over here LOL)

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