Ta2ati2d's Weblog

Should restaurants list calories?

Are we getting too obsessed with weight-loss and calorie-counting that we’re not even allowing ourselves the extra calories when out on a night on the town or a family dinner at Olive Garden?  When we’re on the run from one place to another, and needing just a quick fix from a Mickey D’s or Burger King, we still need to know how many calories a quick bite has?

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The answer is an astounding YES, as far as the health-conscious go.  It’s not even so much a question answered by the temporary dieters, but also by those who are willing to dedicate their lifetime of a better way of eating and living in general.  This isn’t a hair commercial, but millions out there (myself included) are saying “I’m worth it!”  You’ve got to walk around and do things with that body…don’t you want to know the kind of fuel that’s in there?

Beyond what we read and observe in every day life, we also have a great visual lesson in Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me”.  Eating the poison the fast-food joint employ-ees serve up to us with a surly, I’m-not-getting-paid-enough-to-see-you-smile type of attitude, doesn’t just affect our belt-line, it also our moods.  Maybe those employees have been testing the supply just a little too often…maybe?

“Today” on NBC put a poll on their website you can check out right now:

Should restaurants be blamed for America’s obesity epidemic?   * 5993 responses
Yes. They don’t tell the truth about the food they serve.
3.9%
No. I think people themselves are to blame.
59%
Restaurants are only partially to blame. There are many factors at work.
37%
Not a scientific survey. Click to learn more. Results may not total 100% due to rounding.

I’m 1 of the 37% that feels that restaurants are partly to blame, and I’ll explain why.  I think it’s naive to believe we’re at the mercy of the restaurants or any kind of eateries we go to.  We have a choice to eat out, to stay home and loot the fridge, or to go to the farmer’s market for a healthy snack.  If we don’t ask for the nutritional value information, it’s either that we’re really not thinking about it in the first place, or we want/feel we deserve the indulgence of something richer and bigger, and want to forget about what it contains.  This fly-by-the-seat-of-your-chair attitude happens pretty often, as does the request to see the information we know we have the right to ask.

But when we ask for said info, more often than not the people behind the counter find it cumbersome to have to find the binder of papers, rolling their eyes or get huffy and tell you they don’t have the time to get it (no lie, an employee actually told me she wasn’t going back to the office to root around for it).  Starbucks is pretty good about providing the necessary information.  Last time I was in an Applebee’s, they had a dieter’s menu and had all the info listed in the descriptions of the meals.

Now I hear that the New York State Restaurant Association doesn’t want the regulation to provide the nutritional information to customers, and is, in fact, suing to prevent  knowledge.

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The reasons the man gave for not wanting the information on the menus really make no sense.  Because it’s found to be cumbersome?  So is paying taxes!  We are in a state of awareness now.  That we weren’t privvy to nutritional facts twenty years ago, but have access to it now, shows us that we have come a long way, with still further to go.  

Twelve or thirteen years ago, sales in bottled water were on the rise, and parents and teachers were encouraging their kids to bring bottles to school as an alternative to drinking sodas and juices high in sugars.  Kids in middle and high schools were petitioning to get healthier foods in the cafeterias, were boycotting the cafeterias altogether and brownbagging their lunches.  This has been happening for a while now.  And now that a lot of us have become green-friendly, we’re lunch-boxing it to schools and jobs.

Sorry to sound cliche`, but knowledge is power, and as human beings, we have the right to that power that allows us the ability to make decisions on what to eat, proportions and moderation.  Gyms are making millions of dollars because so many people, of all ages, are signing up in hopes to get stronger, leaner, and healthier overall.

Now working in Manhattan has it’s pros and cons.  Of course, things are more expensive here, there’s a Starbucks on practically every corner, there are various different fast food chains on almost every block.  But the upswing is that there are also farmer’s markets not too far off in many parts of Manhattan, now that spring has sprung.  Working on Wall Street, as soon as I turn the corner onto Broadway, I see vendors for fruit, waters, falafels and a Dean & Deluca’s inside Border’s that sell salads and pretty healthy sandwiches.  We have various delis that provide salad bars and assortments of fruit. 

When the weather gets better, there’s a Jamba Juice on Warren and West Broadway that I like to frequent.  Granted, they are expensive, but so is Starbucks.  At least with Jamba Juice, the sizes are bigger and the product is healthier, the fruits are natural and not pre-processed packaging (say that one five times fast!)

The point is; we do have options available to us.  We have a plethora of information, all of which we are entitled to.  We are able to make decisions based on what we see in front of us, and able to ask for more if we so choose.  For an entire association to say, “No, we don’t want to provide you with more because it’s cumbersome” is irresponsible, and, dare I say, whiny.

So, all that said…what are you doing for lunch today?

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