Recently, in an attempt to live a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been attempting to be more conscious of what I eat, this means obsessively tracking the calories of everything (ok, maybe not gum) that goes into my body. Sometimes this is tough, especially if you stop to grab something at a local café, but lately, major restaurants and shops have been listing the nutritional info for their items on the menu. For me, it makes it easier to make healthier choices (or remind myself that I need to get up and exercise after eating that burger), but for many others the effects aren’t quite the same.

Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York have rolled out laws requiring restaurant chains to list the nutritional information on menus, but researchers found that it hasn’t significantly lessened the amount of calories customers consumed.

A study published in the British Medical Journal found that only one in six people change their order after viewing the nutritional information.

Reuters reports:

The New York city report surveyed the lunchtime crowd at 11 fast-food restaurant chains, looking at receipts for more than 7,300 people 12 months before the law took effect and for nearly 8,500 customers nine months after it was implemented.

For the three main restaurant chains studied, customers on average bought 44 fewer calories at McDonald’s, 80 fewer calories at Au Bon Pain and 59 fewer calories at KFC.

Subway, the popular sandwich chain, saw a significant increase during the survey because of its promotional offer for a $5, foot-long sandwich. The other chains saw little change in their customers’ purchases.

Despite most people continuing to order gut-busting options while they dine out, restaurants and fast food chains are under pressure to offer healthier choices to customers. Recently McDonalds said it would be switching up their famed happy meals to make them healthier for kids, and many chains have followed suit.

While the healthiest (and most economical) option is to cook at home, sometimes we are pressed for time or may want a nice meal out. It’s good to know that laws like those implemented in Los Angeles and New York City give us more information about what exactly we’re eating when we dine out.

How about you Clutchettes and Gents…do menu calorie counts change what you order when you dine out? 

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  • yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!!

    i don’t want to and can’t sit down and gorge on 1600 calories in one meal. i’ve always been conscious with what i eat – i usually stay around 1400 a day; but to CONSCIOUSLY eat 1200 calories in a salad or a 1600 calorie salmon dish (cheesecake factory anyone?) is ridiculous and inexcusable.

    the majority of all chain restaurants are HORRIBLE for healthy eating. absolutely horrendous.

    by the time you finish a meal out for one day after adding breakfast and snacking you are easily at 2500 – 3000 cal a day when a pound of fat is 3500 calories.

    i need to keep looking good nekkid and i can’t do that eating like i have no self control. :)

    • TR

      Damn, 1600 calories for a salmon dish? Do they dip it in lard and deep fry it? A good way to look out for this without obsessing is to share a meal. The portion sizes at places like TGI Fridays and Cheesecake Factory are insanely large. My entire four person family will often eat off one meal. We may add a side just round it out. Granted, that includes two small children. But we also walk out of the restaurant without feeling like whales afterward. And its cheap.

  • OSHH

    Another thing to avoid are dishes prepared with heavy cream/cream based sauces instead opt for veggie based sauce
    reg mayo,
    white pasta, bread, sugars etc
    Go light with cheese
    Red salad dressing……….limiting or cutting out these things all together can make all the difference.

  • oknow

    yes it does… i may even order certain foods w/no ketchup, mustard, cheese or mayo tooo..

  • Leanee Beanie

    Yes. The nutritional information that they provide at restaurants further encourages me to NOT buy anything from them. I have only set foot in a fast food restaurant twice in the last year–once for a bottle of water, and once for tea after a 24 hour fast.