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How well can you estimate calorie counts when dining out?  Let’s try a little pop quiz to see.

Question #1.  How many calories are this Pizza Skin appetizer?

calories 2050

 

Answer:  2,050 calories

 

Question #2.  How about this Colossal Hamburger?

calories 1940

 

Answer: 2,060 calories ( fries are extra, of course )

 

Question #3.  What about this single slice of chocolate cheesecake?

 

calories 1380

 

Answer: 1,380 calories

 

And finally, the most frustrating of all…Question #4.  What about this seemingly healthy “Fresh Broccoli and Chicken Pasta”?

calories 2060

 

Answer:  2,060 calories (not to mention 65 grams of saturated fat, which is three entire days worth)

 

How did you do?  If you are anything like me, you probably had no clue how many calories these foods contain because you don’t know what is in them.

It can be tricky to navigate through restaurants, movie theater menu boards, and vending machine offerings.  Commercial foods tends to be high in sugar, fat, and salt in order to make them hyper-palatable (also known as “really tasty” to the average person).  They are also usually served in large portions that encourage us to overeat.

If we want to protect our health, we have two main solutions to this dilemma.

#1  Get cooking.  When we cook from home we have ultimate control over the food that we put in our bodies.  There is simply no substitute.

#2  Be informed about the foods that we eat when dining out.

The New FDA Ruling

This week, the Food and Drug Administration released the final menu labeling regulations that may help us to be more informed when dining out.  By the end of next year, restaurants and retail establishments with more than 20 locations will be required to post calorie counts on menu boards.  This includes sit down restaurants, drive-through windows, movie theaters, deli counters, salad bars, bakery shops, coffee houses, and more.  Vending machines have been allotted two years to make the change.  My favorite part is that the font size of the calorie counts has the be the same size of the item name or price (whichever is smaller) so they can’t try to hide it.

The ruling is designed to help consumers make informed decisions at the point of purchase.

My thoughts?  I think this is great.  The information will be readily available for those who are interested.

The drawback?  As consumers, we have to remember that good nutrition encompasses much more than calorie counts.  For example, a diet soda, artificially sweetened pudding, or 100 calorie cookie snack pack are all low in calories.  But they are not very nutritious foods.

Will the new ruling encourage consumers to choose lower calorie foods?  Some research studies suggests that it may help a little bit, particularly in women (1, 2).  Other studies do not find a difference (3, 4, 5).   I guess time will tell.

 

Infographic Calories Now on the Menu

Read more at at www.fda.gov by clicking here.