Why not let us make informed choices?

Can you tell what's in the dish? © Otokimus | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Can you tell what’s in the dish?
© Otokimus | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Have you ever been mistaken about making an enlightened choice at restaurant – maybe ordering a salad with more calories and fat than a burger, a veggie-filled stirfry which makes pizza look lean or a coffee drink containing  a half day’s calories?

Welcome to the world of eating out.

Making informed decisions, in this day and age when restaurant meals are no longer just for special occasions, just seems smart.

But what qualifies as an informed decision? Ask representatives of many restaurant chains here in Canada and they’ll state that they’re doing a great job. They offer nutrition information on their websites and pamphlets in their eateries.

So why then are they so dead against taking that final step to really be transparent and truly help diners select healthy options?

In the U.S.,  Starbucks has announced that they will post calorie information on menu boards at all company-operated and licensed U.S. Starbucks stores.  They will also place on tags to accompany food in the bakery case.

“Menu labeling is yet another step to extend our commitment to wellness, ensuring our customers and partners (employees) have the information they need to make informed decisions and understand all the ways that they can customize their Starbucks® beverages to be within their desired calorie range,” said Mary Wagner, PhD and senior vice president, Global Research & Development at Starbucks. “Starbucks believes that wellness is the journey to a happy, healthy life through daily choices, whether it’s a favorite beverage or a wholesome meal option.”

So what about Starbucks Canada? They won’t be joining their American counterparts by  posting the info. It doesn’t seem as though they are as interested in their customers’ wellness.

Posting nutrition information on the internet and not at the point of purchase – on menu boards – doesn’t take a number of issues into account. For one, diners may make spontaneous choices and decide to go for a selection at the spur of the moment.

A client of mine recently had dinner at Swiss Chalet and instead of his usual breast of chicken with the skin removed and salad without the dressing, opted for a Vegetable Stir Fry with Jasmine Rice and Chicken. He knew it would be higher in calories but what he didn’t expect were the whopping numbers: 1170 calories, 40 grams of fat and 1910 milligrams of sodium.

These were figures he had looked up after he got home. He also pointed out that looking up info was not an easy task.

Just click on the chart below and you’ll see how difficult it can be. The nutrient categories are all listed on top of the page and when you find your choice, you likely have to scroll up and down to figure out which numbers fall into the various categories.

 ee-swisschalet-nutrition

Up Next: more on nutrition information on menus
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What is your opinion on the issue? Do you find it difficult to find nutrition info? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Categories: Food Trends, Rosie's Rants

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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