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May 7, 2010 11:09 AM

Would nutritional information on restaurant menus help you make healthier choices?

I just read about a study at the University of Waterloo in Ontario where the researcher is trying to determine if information right on the menu (rather than on the restaurant's website or a brochure) would affect diners' choices for the better.

I think the idea is that this menu labeling policy, if ever implemented, would apply only to fast-food outlets and chains so the notion may not be an issue with most chowhounds but it got me to thinking about the choices I make at non-chain restaurants.

I try to eat healthy most of the time but when I eat out -- thoughts of calories and sodium be damned, I want to enjoy myself. For instance, I had a duck confit poutine earlier this week -- it was rich and it was salty and it was good. My poor heart is probably still in shock.

Would you welcome nutritional info on menus as a way to make healthy choices? Or would it put you off.

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  1. I don't know that having the information on the menu would influence my choices, but having the information available through a website or brochure absolutely has. There are times when chain restaurants are the only option, and I will almost always choose one that makes the information available so I can plan my meal. I'm an on-again, off-again weight watchers participant, so the numbers are important to me.

    1. I've thought about this a lot, and I'm just not sure. I always know when I eat junk that it's junk, and since it's a rare occurrence for me, I doubt the info would make any difference.

      The real issue, though, is that except in places with gadgets that strictly regulate the ingredients, the actual item's resemblance to the recipe used to calculate the tallies is going to differ extremely widely. I've had restaurant sandwiches with literally three tablespoons of mayonnaise, and I'm sure that's not how they're intended. Likewise with portion sizes. I occasionally really enjoy a Hardee's hamburger with onion rings. Even at the well-run location near my house, the amount of onion rings especially varies in the extreme from serving to serving.

      1. I would find it useful. I track my calorie intake regularly and often stay in rather than go out because I only want to eat 500 or so calories. If I knew of some meals that were around my target levels for calories and macronutrients, I might be encouraged to go try them more often.

        1. Many places in Japan have calorie counts on their menus. I thought it was helpful, although it didn't really influence my choices. For the most part the calorie counts for a particular dish weren't that high, but that might have been because the restaurants were more conscious about keeping the calories down.

          1. I would love to know the nutritional information for the foods I eat in restaurants. It doesn't necessarily have to be right on the menu, but I would really appreciate having access to the information if requested. I know I can OFTEN do this online for chain restaurants, but I would like to have access to this information while I'm at ANY restaurant during the decision-making process. I started "tracking" my food intake a few months ago and the changes have been amazing. I didn't realize how little protein I was eating and have since made huge steps towards meeting my recommended daily intake (and lost twenty pounds...).