MoneySaving Poll: Should restaurant menus tell you the calories?

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  • It's not carbs that make you fat - have you ever seen a fat vegan? - it's fats. (Google vegan athletes. It's a real eye-opener!)

    I would like to see the sat fat content (as in Pret-a-Manger), not to stay slim, but to protect my heart.:)
  • tgroom57
    tgroom57 Posts: 1,431
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    Maybe if the restaurant had a menu app, you could select whether you wanted to track carbs or sugar or fats. The app could look at your preferred dishes and suggest alternatives.

    That way the details wouldn 't be cluttering up the menu in too-small print.
  • I can't see the point of this in restaurants. Yes for things like allergies, but for calories it seems a bit pointless.

    I'm aware i may have this opinion as i've never struggled too much with weight, so i'm not seeing the whole picture, but a restaurant is supposed to be a nice place to visit, not an overly cautious one.

    This can't be good for restaurateurs i imagine, as this could cost them quite a lot of overhead. It seems tough enough to run a restaurant without this kind of stuff.

    I'm very surprised that the results of the poll are favouring this idea so far.
  • Once again the obsession with calories.


    The problem is that if you get restaurants to target calories as the measure they will introduce ''slimming" menus with fewer calories. This does not mean healthier dishes, as often to reduce calories they reduce the fats whilst increasing, yes, increasing sugars.


    As a diabetic, diet meals are the bane of my life, as what should be a low carb meal is stripped of fats and stuffed with sugars. If you are going to require calories to be declared you must require other factors as well such as carbohydrate content and I would suggest salt content and allergens.
  • It is fairly easy for a chain 'restaurant' shipping pre-prepared part cooked food to give calorie information. The costs are minimal as any costs for analysis are divided by the huge number of portions sold over the menus lifetime. The figures are probably fairly accurate too as uniform pre-processed ingredients will be used in the factories, dispensed by machine into the dishes.

    For a real restaurant, that cooks from scratch, arriving at calorie counts is an excessively onerous requirement. The accuracy would also be suspect. I doubt ingredients are weighed out individually for each portion. Such an establishment would, I'm sure, be willing to accommodate a request for a low fat / sugar dish though, especially if warned in advance. Such requests can be interesting challenges for kitchen staff.

    A chef who designs his menu based upon the food that looked nicest in market that day doesn't stick a chance. They may not even know to any great acurracy how much butter will go in a dish until they actually get the first order out of the kitchen. They may only be expecting to shift a dozen or so of that particular dish too.
  • kerri_gt
    kerri_gt Posts: 11,202
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    I have a hard enough time deciding what i want when I got out for dinner anyway. I have a meal out as a treat to enjoy - if I eat starter, main course, dessert then I'm not going to kid myself I haven't over indulged. That said, if I'm travelling on business, I wouldn't do that every night.

    If people can't look at a menu and work out what is the best choice for what they fancy to eat, plus if they are watching what they are eating for a reason then its more than calories we need to worry about. Personally I'm not going to expect the big bowl of creamy pasta, or pork belly with thrice cooked chips to be a low calorie option and I don't need a number to tell me that.

    I'd rather know the provenance of the ingredients, and the breeding of the meat / fish on a menu.
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  • stevemcol
    stevemcol Posts: 1,666 Forumite
    Personally speaking I just don't need the info and I don't believe anyone really does. My weight goes between 16st and 13 st. I know when I'm overeating and when I need to cut back and then my weight starts to fall. I can tell just by looking at a dish or its description whether it's high in fat & calories or not. The numbers provided will never be bang on anyway.
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  • I don't understand how seeing the calories for a dish could be a hassle by any means. You wouldn't have to take them into account if you didn't want to. Personally, I actually enjoy calorie counting, I know off-heart the calorific content of most of the foods I eat.
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  • roses
    roses Posts: 2,330
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    I don't think they should publish calories as people won't order certain items as they'll be worried about fat/salt content etc. Their sales might go down too so restaurants won't be interested in this.

    However what they could look into is providing a bar code for people to scan for each item then people who are food contious can scan and add it themselves using mobile apps like myfitnesspal.
  • I don't mind it being on the menu as usually it's quite subtle. Whilst I wouldn't say it dictates my every choice when I go out for a meal - because let's face it, a life of green salad and water would be deadly boring and there are times when only a four cheese pizza/giant burger will do - it has been quite surprising to see that things I thought were 'healthy' actually have more calories than what seem like the unhealthier options, and on a couple of occasions I have decided to opt for the lower calorie meal. Even if people choose not to take the information into account, the fact it's there is giving them the information they might use to make that choice.
    beebware wrote: »
    I just don't understand why some "fast food" places (McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut) seem to be forced to put calorie/nutritional information (after all, some people *have* to avoid high-fat items) on their menus, but more "upmarket" places don't (and fish'n'chips places etc don't either). Seems double standards to me.

    No restaurants are forced to do it, chain or not, upmarket or fast-food - it's entirely a matter of choice. My guess is fast food places have been early adopters in an attempt to present a more positive image and that they care about helping their customers to make good choices (even if the customers don't necessarily always use the information). Plus as others have said it might be more difficult for independent restaurants to include this information.
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