Sunday, April 23, 2017

Nutrition in the News: Restaurant Menus and Calories

Look for calories to be printed on menus by May 5, 2017.  Good thing as this past week we ate at Olive Garden and wanted a lighter meal.  We asked the waiter if they had a light menu with calories noted.  He didn’t know.  We asked if the calories were posted on the menu and he said no, but he could go to the kitchen and look up the calories.  Luckily, we noticed the Olive Garden menu has Tastes of the Mediterranean with menu items under 600 calories.  Looking for calories on restaurant menus will become a lot easier on May 5, 2017 when restaurants that have over 20 locations will be required to post calories on their menus.   

What establishments will be posting calories?
  • Restaurants with more than 20 locations nationwide
  • Convenience stores must show calories of prepared food items such as muffins and donuts
  • Movie theaters – ever wonder how many calories in the tub of popcorn?  It will now be posted.
  • Supermarkets – will post calories of prepared foods such as sandwiches.
  • Vending Machines – look for calories near the food item or on a selection button.             

Tips for using the posted calories 
  • How many calories do you need each day and each meal?  If you need 2100 calories a day, then dinner should be about 700 calories.  If your entre runs more than this, think of boxing up half of it to take home.
  • Menu Options – some menu items will have 2 calories posted:  350/450 as different preparation methods or options can change calorie counts. Ask the wait staff which options have the higher and lower calories.
  • Compare restaurants – you may always order a side of small fries.  But the calories can vary greatly from restaurant to restaurant.  So check the menu at each restaurant and don’t assume you know what the calories are.

Will posting calories make a difference in what we eat?

New York City already requires restaurants to post calories.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest noted a study that found 15% of people chose food with 106 fewer calories at lunch when the calories were posted. 

By looking at the menus you can now make healthier, informed choices. stated people can think about choices they are making such as ordering small fries instead of large fries saves you 200 calories.  Ordering the fries instead of ordering onion rings can save you 300 calories. 


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