I’d Like the 2000 Calories with the 200 Calories on the side, hold the 300 Calories

Yes, friends, a new US legislation requires that restaurants disclose on menus the caloric content of the dishes they provide. So, when you visit one of 20,000 restaurants south of the border, you not only get a listing of their daily specials, you also get a numerical number, indicating how much energy that food will provide to your body’s cells. I have several issues with this legislation, although I assume it comes from a good place on the part of Mr. Obama and his team: the logic is to ensure consumers have the “truth” when they are making choices, hopefully deterring them from high calorie, high fat, high sugar options and toward a more sensible option. I think this is idealistic and not reflective of the response I predict, which is completely the opposite. Those of us who count calories ANYWAY, may enjoy this listing, but those of us who should be more concerned about our caloric intakes will just glance at the numbers and continue to order the choice they want anyway. Moreover, seeing food in this quantitative manner takes the pleasure right out of the whole process (think about the relationship we have with food, which for many includes guilt). And, many of us still eat for pleasure, believe it or not, and should look forward to a splurge now and then (keyword on now and then, not habitually). Also, what does 2000 calories really mean to consumers? Are they able to take this measure and create a perspective for it? Does it teach them about what is a more nutritious choice? Not really. Each of us has differing caloric requirements based on something called metabolic rate. The way we find out our metabolic rate is by using this fandangled machine called the metabolic cart. Last I checked, very few people had access to this piece of equipment. In terms of understanding the link between calories and nutrition, I like to use the example of a can of coke and 15 grapes: they have the same calories (about 150), but are worlds apart in nutritional content. This legislation is a prime example of “lost in translation”.


About danirenouf

I have been a registered dietitian since 2003, and very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in industry, clinical nutrition, public health, and private practice. Currently, I am extremely excited about pursuing entrepreneurial ventures which start with my private consulting practice and branch out into the food and culinary industry. I am busy every day developing my own food products and recipes, adapting traditional cooking techniques and incorporating new and innovative ways to prepare nutritious, delicious food. I am passionate about everything food-related, and aspire to engage others in "getting to know their food" - not all of us are cooks, or need to be, but all of us need to eat.
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3 Responses to I’d Like the 2000 Calories with the 200 Calories on the side, hold the 300 Calories

  1. nele says:

    love this article Dani, very well written and different.

  2. Nicole says:

    Your entries are fantastic Dani. I can relate to your eloquent descriptions of the delights and frustrations surrounding cooking and the eating experience.

    I am saddened by the guilt and pain many people experience with eating. There are many dysfunctional societal pressures that contribute to this situation.

    Eating is one of the wonderful pleasures in life and we’ve broken it down so much that positive experiences have almost dissolved. I hope we can swing the pendulum back; learn to love eating and trust in one of the most primitive and fabulous parts of life.

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