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Should Restaurants Indicate Unhealthy Menu Choices?

Some chain restaurants have dishes that pack in at least a day's worth of calories and fat, without giving customers the facts about what they are ordering.

For example: Did you know that Ruby Tuesday's offers an entree called Fresh Chicken & Broccoli Pasta that tips the scales at 2,060 calories and 128 grams of fat? [GASP] Or did you know that one slice of The Cheesecake Factory's Chris's Outrageous Chocolate Cake has a whooping 1,380 calories? Or that an order of Uno's Chicago Grill’s Pizza Skins (yup, pizza skins) has about 2,050 calories and 48 grams of saturated fat. Now keep in mind that the average daily calorie requirement is about 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.

This whole thing got me thinking -- Since we've been talking so much about restaurants keeping us informed about the nutritional content of menu items so we know what is healthy to eat, what do you think about them letting us know what is NOT healthy to eat?

Join The Conversation
lms lms 10 years
I think alot of restaurants have a healthy low calorie section of foods to choose from. The other items are obviously not low calorie. It is also the consumers responsibility to do their own research in advance. There are many websites that will break down the calories of chain restaurant food items as well as just general recipes. Of course every restaurant will have different items that they include into recipes that will add calories to it, but if you have an idea of what you are ordering then it is up to you to chose wisely or eat a smaller portion of your entree.
SeaFoamGreen215 SeaFoamGreen215 10 years
they need to have it on everything! and people who would oppose to this, what harm is in showing the calories?
mandiesoh mandiesoh 10 years
i think its good to have it, no one will really stop you from eating the "bad" stuff but have the calories/fat/sodium etc values there will help plenty of people who are trying to make a change in their lifestyles. its good, cos then everyone is making an informed choice.
KrissyThePirate KrissyThePirate 10 years
I happen to work for one of the mentioned restraunts mentioned, and I can say that we keep a computer in the entrance with all the caloric facts about each thing on the menu. On top of that, if some places don't have that--you can ask for a paper version. I think you have to go out to eat with the intention to spluge in the first place, and you just have to use common sense otherwise. Anything that has an oil filled pizza crust, filled with seasoned mashed potatoes, covered in melted cheese and bacon bits sweating pure fat--I mean you have to think that's probably not the best choice for you. Of course grilled chicken and steamed veggies are almost always guarenteed to be half decent for you. I'm a server, and if people ask me about the food, I'm honest with them, as I'm dieting--so I'm not going to deceive anyone, you know? There's like 3 or 4 things on our menu that aren't a heart attack on a plate, so it sucks a little, but until chains realize people are trying eat better, they aren't going to change their menus.
vrico2005 vrico2005 10 years
I think it is a great idea to have the information on the menu. The Ruby Tuesday's broc, cheese calorie leviathan terrifies me... Maybe a separate menu that lists all the health information so I can make smarter decisions.
XDeexDeeX XDeexDeeX 10 years
Well if someone wants to ask...than they ask..But usually novody knows if it's healthy or not..
daiseechain daiseechain 10 years
I think people just need to use more common sense. I look at eating out at a restaurant as a little treat, something that I don't do too often. Having said that, I'm not gonna go all out and order the most fat laden thing on the menu. If i order pasta, I always order with tomato sauce instead of creme. If i order chicken, i make sure it's grilled and not deep-fried. If my order comes with potatoes, i'll order them baked, without the sour creme. Some restaurants will even give you salsa as a potato topper for free. It just comes down to common sense. Perhaps printing on the menu that caloric information is available upon request instead of jamming the menu full of numbers.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 years
I agree with this in theory, but then I feel like the chefs, servers, etc would be judgemental on people who order foods that are flagged as unhealthy... _________________________________________________________ Why don't you wear the face you have when I am not around?
amandaaa amandaaa 10 years
i can definitely see how this is a bad idea- for restaurants, that is. it would help the consumer make better decisions. all nutritional information should be provided for the menu, and everyone should ALSO note that the nutritionals can vary from the given amount. for example, they may add more oil or something to your dinner. or, they may use less salsa. who knows. things aren't all the same in the kitchen when they make food. and also realize HOW the food is prepared and find out ways to make it healthier. for example, have the veggies steamed and make sure they are steamed WITHOUT any butter or oil. the same thing goes for chicken! and salad nutritionals change because you may or may not use all of your dressing. just educate yourself and learn how to eat healthier.
mandyjean mandyjean 10 years
I don't think they should be forced to do it, but I do think it would be great if they did... yeah, if the world was a perfect place
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 10 years
Funny thing about that is that McD's has had their Nut. Info readily available to customers for YEARS!
bnelson bnelson 10 years
I think that nutrition info should be readily available for any menu item. Needless to say, there are those people that will just ignore the nutrition guidelines and order the unhealthiest menu items anyways. It is your choice what is put into your body, but a resturaunt should let people know what they are putting into their bodies. I am sure there will always be those people who sue McDonalds for being fat.
RockinHeartJD RockinHeartJD 10 years
I think it would be a great idea to let people know the caloric intake. I am a recent vegetarian and I can't even go to chain restaurants anymore because most of them don't offer anything for vegetarians (especially here in texas), and if they do- it is a boring salad. I went to Cheddar's recently and ALL the salads had chicken on it!! Without the chicken, I am stil paying for it. It is ridiculous. Americans need to lighten up soon.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 10 years
I think people like to eat out as an escape from their own kitchens. There's nothing wrong with being adventerous and eating outside your diet every now and then, but I think maybe menus can be modified to indicate unhealthy meals. Better yet, why can't chefs find ways to modify recipes to keep the flavor but cut out most of the unhealthy elements?
crispysugar crispysugar 10 years
I think all menu items should have at least fat and calorie info available. There are so many items that people THINK are healthy- and then the nutritional information reveals quite the opposite. Even stuff with veggies and chicken can be horrible depending on how it's cooked. Counting my calories and checking the facts has pretty much ruined going to most of my favorite places... it's no wonder I was fat before! Even salads can be terrible for you. It's all so depressing :(
ccsugar ccsugar 10 years
Is it bad that I want to eat that huge slice of cheesecake?
ccsugar ccsugar 10 years
I think they should just indicate the healthy items. That way, if you see an item you like that's not marked healthy, you should then know that it's bad. But, at the rate we're going, we may have to succomb to putting warnings on unhealthy foods like we do now for ciggies.
SunshineDaydream SunshineDaydream 10 years
Yeah. I think everything should be upfront.
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 10 years
I like to think that I have a lot of common sense. Of course this applies to what I eat...I wouldn't eat chocolate cake or deep-fried food and expect it to be healthy. But I also cannot guess at what kind of stuff they cook the food in. Example: Outback Steakhouse (groan...again?)... They have a Chicken and Veggie Platter...sounds healthy, right??? Probably the healthiest sounding thing on their menu. However, if you look at their guidlines to eating healthy, is says to ask that it be cooked without butter or glaze. Who the heck thinks to ask "Oh, and skip the glaze, please."???? ALSO...if you track calories like I do, you choose to not go to places that won't disclose their calorie content. So, I guess, it depends on if they even want patrons who are trying to be healthy.
jessiedallas jessiedallas 10 years
how about the monte cristo sandwhich at bennigans?? its DEEP FRIED, the whole thing!! i worked there and it would make me want to puke when i saw people eating it...and come to think of it, everything there comes out of a bag or is frozen, i cannot eat there to this day... but kudos to texas roadhouse, i worked there before bennigans and almost everything is fresh, they make thier own croutons & dressings and cut thier own meat in the mornings, stuff like granted its still not healthy, but at least its a bit better....i've heard outback does the same, and to me it really tastes like it...but still, doesn't make restaurant food healthy. but i like to know how what i'm eating came about.
lilren lilren 10 years
I don't think that anyone could look at chocolate cake or pasta covered with cheese or "pizza skins" with bacon and consider them "healthy" options. Putting the calorie count for each item on the menu might be a good idea and I'm definitely all about pointing out the healthy options, but people also need to use some common sense.
Keaton7655 Keaton7655 10 years
I just think they should drastically cut back on portion sizes to begin with. Then maybe at calorie and fat content.
ash_marisa ash_marisa 10 years
I don't know if its good or bad. If people just read what is in the dish, you can usually tell. You do have to take responsibility for your choices and not always place blame on others (come on guys, chicken and broccoli with cream sauce and cheese, you know thats bad for you) I've had the chocolate cake at the cheesecake factory..with 3 other friends. There's no way one person would be able to eat their on their own. It's seriously huge, and if you tried to eat it all by yourself, you know what you are getting yourself into.
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 10 years
I usually have to ask if there are nuts or mayo in a lot of dishes...that usually delays my order about 15 minutes while they go find out because they're not sure. As a good consumer, I believe they should just put the information there for me so I don't have to guess and ask about everything. Going back to the nuts thing, they could add allergy info while they're at it!!
susanec susanec 10 years
I realize that many people prefer chains for various reasons (ease, comfort, consistency) but those are the reasons that I don't like them. Local restaurants can still be unhealthy because chefs like their butter and oil but they're also more likely to use fresh, local ingredients and if you're a good consumer then you'll learn how to read a menu, how to ask about dishes and you'll take some responsibility for yourself. But I won't give up cheese and a great creme brulee is reason enough to have a nice dinner out sometimes.
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