The New York Times just makes it easier (in our humble opinion) to prove our points about the simple things that can be done to live a healthy lifestyle.
Case in point: three dancers who walk into a restaurant in New York City and see their expected meal ringing up to 1,090 calories. The result? They turned tail and headed for a salad.
This is not unique to major urban areas; in fact, students at the University of Alabama are getting to glance at what’s in their food before buying or even grabbing it off the line. In 2006-2007, ARAMARK’s Bama Dining (www.bamadining.com) worked to bring nutrition labels to point-of-service, their website where students check out the menus daily, and to a service kiosk located outside of major dining facilities. Some students complained about seeing the caloric information posted – but the goal is to make the information available to those who need it, and the unhappy (and unhealthy) students can choose to ignore it.
Bama Dining is part of a growing group of companies who are listening to consumers and diners who are demanding change. Remember when Applebee’s dishes had more calories than advertised? Class-action law suit. Cheesecake Factory’s (miracle) “6 carb cheesecake” made with Splenda? More than 6 carbs, and another lawsuit is rumored to be filed, although it is now back as a “low carb” cheesecake offering. Other restaurant corporations, such as Yum Brands (think KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) and Starbucks, say the consumer demand, not threat of legislation, has them changing to portion-conscious servings and providing easily-accessible nutrition information.
New York City did get a wake up call this summer when legislation required restaurants with 15 or more outlets to put the calorie content of food next to the price. People were shocked, but not us. We wish they had also been required to provide even more nutrition information. We know it’s hard and the restaurant margins aren’t huge so we wouldn’t ask for all info, but maybe carbs in addition to calories would be great and would help people with diabetes, anyone overweight or obese, or anyone at risk. This is an important issue and an important educational opportunity – everyone acknowledges eating habits as an obstacle to healthy lifestyle, weight loss, and prevention of certain diseases (do we need to mention diabetes here?), but unless it is easy to incorporate people probably won’t take the time to do it.
If the information (all of it) is in your face and the food is on your plate, you may recognize the impact of what you’re eating.