Knowledge may be power, but it can be a bummer.

July 17, 2008 at 1:51 pm Leave a comment

This spring, New York City became the first city to implement a law requiring restaurants to list the calorie counts of their foods.  The listings must be in the same font type and size as the prices.  Some restaurants are fighting the law, but others have started complying with it.  And, New Yorkers are astounded by the amount of calories they’re consuming.  Some of them are so distressed by the calorie counts of their favorite foods, they’re asking waiters to sneak them old menus without the information.  Others are switching to lower-calorie items, which is, of course, the goal of the law.

“Putting the brakes on thoughtlessly inhaling calories is exactly the effect New York City health officials hoped the law would have. They say calorie labels could reduce the number of obese New Yorkers by 150,000 over the next five years, and prevent 30,000 cases of diabetes.”

Because of my lifestyle change, I’ve been an avid label reader and nutrition information researcher for a long time.  So, I’ve been keenly aware that you cannot make assumptions about what you nosh in a restaurant.  What seems like a healthy salad can turn out to have over 1300 calories.  Even an innocuous-looking muffin can pack a hefty 600+ calories.  If you’re not aware, you may be frustrated by the fact that you’re not losing weight – or worse, you’re gaining – when you aren’t, supposedly, eating that much.

Some folks would rather not know, but others are embracing the leaner items, so much so that restaurants are running out of the lower-calorie choices.  To me, that’s a good thing.  The more we know, the better we can take care of ourselves. And, the more demand for healthy, low-cal items increases, the more choices our restaurants will give us.  I like to have as many tasty but healthy choices as possible, so I’m all for motivating eateries to provide more options that fit my plan.

When I first started my lifestyle change, I, too, was discouraged by the truth about my favorite foods.  But now, I see it as a challenge to discover – or create – items that satisfy my tastebuds and my scale goals.  For the most part, it has become fun.  And, if more and more cities adopt these types of laws, eating out will be even better for me because I’ll have all the information I need at my fingertips everywhere I go.  No more need to print out reams of paper to bring into a place that doesn’t provide the information in an on-site booklet.  No more having to decide on one or two items ahead of time, only to find out that they aren’t offering those dishes at that time.  No more guessing on the numbers and seeing a depressing uptick on the scale a few days later.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but in this case, knowledge can be blissful once you get over the shock.

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Entry filed under: food review, news around the blogosphere, tips & techniques. Tags: , .

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