Would you change your mind about eating a bran muffin if you saw that it had more calories than a glazed doughnut? Probably, right? Well, there’s a growing movement to make chain restaurants list calorie counts, fat content and other nutritional information on the menu or somewhere in the restaurant. California has had a calorie count law on the books since 2008, and restaurants have to start complying within the next two years. New York City is already on board. Now every chain restaurant in the city has to list the calories right alongside menu items. The thinking here is that people will make smarter food choices if they know how many calories they could be eating. Guess what? It’s working! According to MSNBC, 80% of New Yorkers ordered differently, after seeing the calorie count. One woman was shocked to find out that her favorite blueberry muffin had over 500 calories! She ended up just ordering a hot tea.
Health experts love menu labeling. Margo Wootan is a nutrition expert in Washington DC, who worked on labeling laws. She says people can save hundreds, or even thousands of calories, just by knowing what’s in their food. Saving calories is what millions of us need! About a third of all our calories are coming from food we eat in restaurants. Since two-thirds of us are overweight, we’re probably not making the best choices. According to Wooten, when people guess how many calories are in their meal, they guess much too low, about 20% less than the actual count. Even nutritionists make mistakes. In one survey, nutritionists were asked to estimate the calories in a burger with a side of onion rings – and they were off by 40%! This doesn’t mean all your favorite restaurants are off limits. Many chains are responding to the labeling laws by adding healthier options to their menus. Check out this great website. It’s called HealthyDiningFinder.com. You can enter your zip code and it’ll suggest restaurants near you AND calorie friendly items to order.