Health Law Requires Labeling of Fast Food
Back in 2008 the New York City Board of Health approved a version of law that required fast-food outlets to display calorie counts on their menus. The hope is that if consumers know that a Whopper has 670 calories and a caramel Frappucino has 380, they might seek healthier options.
The question is - has it been a good idea? Have fast-food consumers in New York City made the shift toward ordering healthier, less calorically dense food?
It seems to be working
At an annual meeting of the Obesity Society in Washington, DC, researchers from New York City’s Department of Health showed evidence that their city's labeling law actually works to decrease the amount of fast-food calories people consume.
Researchers surveyed nearly 11,000 customers in 13 fast-food chains—McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Subway, Au Bon Pain, KFC, Popeye's, Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Taco Bell, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts. What they found was consumers who read the calorie counts reduced their intake by 106 calories.
More reasons to learn the amount of calories in the foods we eat in restaurants
• American adults and children consume about 1/3 of their calories from restaurants, and studies link frequent eating out with obesity and higher caloric intakes.
• Without nutrition information, it is difficult for consumers to make informed choices.
Calories in popular fast-food items
It can be a shocker to find out how many calories are in everyday favorites. Here are a few examples:
• 490 Maple nut scone—640 calories, 24 grams fat, 63 grams of carbohydrate
• Venti White Mocha - 630 calories, 69 grams of sugar, 73 grams of carbohydrate
• Taco Bell Nachos Bellgrande – 760 calories, 39 grams of fat
• Burger King Whopper and Fries – 1250 calories, 70 grams of fat
Know your ingredients - top tips when ordering out
Even in the finest restaurant, it is impossible to know what goes into the foods we order. Here are our top tips when eating out.
1. Go for the steamed veggies
A chef friend of mine says, “Every order of steamed spinach has at least 2 oz. of butter on it. It's all about taste."
That's 4 tablespoons = to 45 grams of fat!
2. Order your eggs poached or boiled
Have you ever watched a breakfast cook in action? Even when ordering that innocent egg-white omlet, they'll typically ladle clear liquid into the pan, so they don't stick. That clear liquid is oil or butter - at least 2 tablespoons worth, or an extra 220 calories and 22 grams of fat!
3. Go light on the Marinara Sauce
It might look healthy, however, fat is a flavor enhancer. Basically, the tastier the marinara, the more oil in the sauce!
- ½ cup sauce = 28 grams of fat (250 calories from fat)
4. Ask for dressing on the side.
Again, fat is a flavor enhancer. Restaurants want to sell tasty food. Consider this:
Most large salads arrive dressed with about ¼ cup of dressing on it. If it is a creamy dressing, that's 38 grams of fat (340 calories from fat) - the same as a cheeseburger.
- Order a Vinegrette. They are about a 3-1 ratio of oil to vinegar.
- Ask for dressing on the side.
- Lemon juice or yogurt with herbs.
5. Sushi has lot's of hidden calories and fat. Be mindful when ordering and consider the following:
• Rolls often contain mayonnaise (1 Tablespoon = 100 calories from fat)
• Spicy tuna rolls—crab hides the mayo
How to lighten-up at the sushi bar:
• Ask the sushi chef for his freshest sashimi. Sashimi is simple fish - no rice, mayo, or oil.
• Ask for vegetable dishes—pickled treats and seaweed salads
• Avoid anything says “crispy”