Would calories posted on food menus change your order?

Would seeing the calories change what you ordered? It did for me!

Would seeing the calories change what you ordered? It did for me!

On vacation I was surprised when we walked into a California In-N-Out to find all the calories posted on the menu.

I usually get the burger protein style (meaning wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun), but I never knew how many calories it was saving me. It was a bunch. The posted calories also made me reconsider what I ordered for the kids. (Walsh asked for the double-double which weighed in at 670 calories! That’s like a third to a fourth of all the calories he should have in one day!)

Later in the trip we ate a Panda Express and seeing the calories completely changed what I ordered. It was great to feel like I made a healthier choice.

California has a state law that requires restaurants with more than 20 locations to post calories on the menu.

I found online that a federal law about posting calories was supposed to go into effect but I don’t think it did because we don’t have it where I live and I don’t think Georgia does either.

I wish the federal law would go into effect. I think knowing the calories just makes us smarter consumers.

What do you think? Do you want to the calories you are about to consume? Or would you rather eat in ignorant bliss? (But really people you know the double cheeseburger isn’t low-cal!) Would it change what you ordered to know?

63 comments Add your comment

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 31st, 2012
10:14 am

Sorry this didn’t pop up this morning — I had the date wrong!!

Fan of this blog

July 31st, 2012
10:23 am

Thank god you posted something today! I was so worried there would not be a blog today!

Augusta

July 31st, 2012
10:42 am

I don’t worry so much about calories as I do SODIUM……but I’m not a fast food person, or a restaurant person either. I cook at home. Healthy.

Fast food is neither.

mystery poster

July 31st, 2012
10:46 am

I was in NY over the 4th of July holiday, and we ate lunch at a Panera Bread. Seeing the calorie contents posted certainly did affect what I ordered. I was torn between two choices and seeing the calorie difference made my decision for me. I appreciate being able to be an informed consumer.

chad

July 31st, 2012
10:52 am

I really wish our state did this. After getting a calorie app on my phone I was shocked to see how some of things I was ordering that I thought were healthy were really not. I think a lot of restaurants do this purposefully to make a strawberry grilled chicken salad seem like a good choice only to find out it has the same calories as a chicken finger basket. It only makes sense that people are informed about what they are eating.

Me

July 31st, 2012
10:55 am

It wouldn’t affect my order at all as we virtually never eat fast food; literally 2-3 times per year. I am probably the type who would find this annoying, to be perfectly honest. I will, however, agree with @Augusta in that we cook at home most of the time.

jct

July 31st, 2012
11:03 am

Hardly ever eat out but having easy access to the calories does help inform my choices. I was with some friends who wanted to eat at Applebees last month. Using myfitnesspal.com I was able to ascertain that two seemingly identical meals have about 450 calories difference. I went with the smaller portion.

I also very much agree with the others on sodium. I would like to see calories and sodium listed. Those of us who are trying to make better choices for our health would appreciate it.

DB

July 31st, 2012
11:24 am

I guess I’m a little skeptical on those notices – I mean, they might say “457 calories”, but if the cook uses a dollop more or less of mayo, then that throws the whole equation off. Stay away from most sauces and the carbs, and you’ll usually end up with a healthier choice.

mystery poster

July 31st, 2012
11:49 am

@DB, I understand your skepticism. I was at the Philly airport awhile ago, and the menu said that the vegetable chow mein had x number of calories (can’t remember the number now). He scooped the noodles into the container, it certainly wasn’t weighed or measures. I’m sure the portion size that I got had was far more than one serving. However, I still think for comparison and making better choices, the information is a good thing to have.

Augusta

July 31st, 2012
12:02 pm

http://www.dwlz.com (dottie’s weight loss zone) is a WONDERFUL tool. It lists every fast food restaurant and most other restaurants, and it tells you EVERYTHING. Calories, fat, sodium, carbs, etc of everything on the menu………

Many of my friends use that site when trying to pick someplace to go eat.

Techmom

July 31st, 2012
12:12 pm

I think it is useful but you have to consider more than just calories. In Chad’s example, certainly the salad is still the better option that the chicken finger basket even if the calories are nearly the same when you consider fats, oils, vitamins, sodium, etc.

When we do go out to eat though my husband and I almost always split a meal anymore. We’ve just realized that not only does it save money but we won’t feel like we have to finish a large portion with a ton of calories after having eaten a piece of bread or dinner roll on top of the meal (or a beer/ glass of wine).

Absolutely

July 31st, 2012
12:19 pm

It absolutely makes a difference! I frequent California for work, and every restaurant has calories listed. It 100% makes me think about what I order and what my calorie intake is. Seeing how you can easily top 1200 calories at lunch by choosing seemingly “healthy” meals really makes you think. For a state as out-of-shape and obese as Georgia, this would be a great idea.

French Fries from KFC

July 31st, 2012
12:23 pm

You know……There not enough people with the nick name Beefy.

Jessica

July 31st, 2012
1:54 pm

It seems like a good idea to me. I don’t like the idea of government regulating what we are allowed to eat (like banning large sodas), but I am all in favor of making sure people are equipped to make informed choices.

MA

July 31st, 2012
1:55 pm

YUM!! An In-N-Out double, double is so yummy. Yes, it is very high in calories, but, we splurge and go every time we visit family in California, because we don’t eat fast food here in Georgia. Yes, the calories listed on the menus helps a lot.

gtmom

July 31st, 2012
2:11 pm

It would not make a difference to me. I tend to eat very healthy most of the time. I don’t need something to state calories for me to figure out it is unhealthy or high in calories. But even then, if I crave it, I will eat it. I have been known to consume close 1800 calories on a single meal. I run close to 30 miles a week so calories is not something I pay attention to. I do try to make sure I get different color veggies, grains, and protein. My kids are underweight so I don’t worry about them either. My oldest is 80% in height but only 15% in weight.
I am with the poster that said this would be annoying. By now, we all have an idea of what is good for us and what is not. I can usually figure out that anything with a sauce or bread is going to be high in calories. Measuring calories in a lab enviroment has mixed results. I probably would not trust calories measurements.

missnadine

July 31st, 2012
2:24 pm

For the majority of people who eat at fast food places all the time, and look like they do, I don’t think the calories would have an impact. For those who are a little healthier, I think it would. The fact that fast food is laden with calories and fat is not news, and the very group that this law is intended to educate would not care. I eat at a fast food place maybe 10 times a year, so I am not sure there would be an impact. It is probably a good tool for parents though.

This may be interesting to see however. I bought a book called Eat This not That, and it was interesting to see that some of the choices we would have thought were healthier were in fact much worse.

RJ

July 31st, 2012
2:46 pm

Would be nice to know since I eat out a couple of days a week. I mostly do Subway and my WW app lets me know the calories and sodium in whatever I’m eating. I will take the occassional splurge. When I do, I really don’t need someone to tell me how fattening that slice of cheesecake is…I already know!

catlady

July 31st, 2012
2:47 pm

It might keep me from eating at all!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 31st, 2012
3:00 pm

I tried to post from my phone but it looks like it didn’t work — I asked at Panda Express about portion size and they said the scoop they used was what the calories were based on. The scoop is consistently used across the chain. Now I guess a worker could add a little more or a little less but in general the scoop was calibrated to the calories. The kids portion uses a smaller part of the scoop so that is less calibrated.

Willow

July 31st, 2012
3:26 pm

I rarely eat out, but having this info. available would be very useful. I am diabetic, and also must control fat grams per meal due to a medical condition. I like to think I look like an ordinary healthy person, but to eat out I look info. up on the internet and choose what I will have before going out. It would allow a little more flexibility if the info. was on the menu. Not a really big deal, just helpful.

Native Atlantan

July 31st, 2012
3:39 pm

Yep…calorie count and sodium content….well, and common sense. I was able to lose 35 pounds over a 4 month period by cutting out anything “white” and beer/wine. Try to keep to that same standard today with a cautious eye towards the calorie and sodium counts. I’ve noticed how most fast food and sit down restaurants really over-salt just about everything.

motherjanegoose

July 31st, 2012
3:44 pm

Maybe. It is fascinating watching what people eat…all across the country. I do not eat much fast food out with the exception of Chick Fil A ( we’ll go tomorrow) or Subway. I do love Panera! I rarely eat a burger out. Perhaps it would cause me to pause and think …is this worth ______ calories? I have just lost 20 =/-5 pounds ( changes on any given day). I tend not to eat much all day, when I am out on business, and then eat a BIG meal at night ( not good). This would probably help me to think about what I am putting in my mouth. I rarely get to California but I do love to visit the state. I would like to fly into SF and drive the coast all the way down to San Diego. I have been to most of the larger cities but on a flight in and out.

Denise

July 31st, 2012
3:45 pm

It would help to have nutritional information on the menu so that i wouldn’t have to look at the menu of some restaurants before I go. Not just calories but carbs, sugar, fat, and sodium as well. Some things that look “obviously” healthy are not when you go by the numbers. I’m trying to watch my diet and some things that I think I’m doing right with I find I’m doing the opposite. So it helps to have the data on hand. I hate having to go online before I go somewhere when I am not on a cheat day.

Becky

July 31st, 2012
3:50 pm

I would love it if this was offered here..We do eat out more than we should, but we eat a lot of salads..If I order anything with bread, I usually throw the bread away..

@missnadine.. I was flipping thru that book (at Khol’s) and like you I was surprised at some of the what to eat vs what not to eat..

homeschooler

July 31st, 2012
3:59 pm

Yes, it would be very helpful and I would love to have that information at a glance but I don’t like the idea of the government forcing anything like this on a business. Every restaurant has this information available, all you have to do is ask. Let’s take responsibility for ourselves and stop trying to take the easy way out. Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. Personally, I’m tired of the overwhelming idea in this country that we are all too stupid to make good choices on our own. It is absolutely NO different from Bloomberg trying to ban large sodas. If patrons start asking and insisting that restaurants give us easy access to this information, some will start doing it and others will follow. Just like many places started having a light menu and many others started giving choices of apples or french fries. The consumer sets the pace and the restaurants follow with what the consumer wants. The government shouldn’t be dictating, the customer should.

Jenifer Brett

July 31st, 2012
4:07 pm

Who cares……All anyone ever sees of me is my head shot……You can’t tell I’m fat can you?

Marie

July 31st, 2012
4:18 pm

I believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (affectionately referred to as Obama-care) requires this in all states now, to be implemented within the next few years.

Fallout Boy

July 31st, 2012
4:35 pm

Native Atlantan
July 31st, 2012
3:39 pm

Yep…calorie count and sodium content….well, and common sense. I was able to lose 35 pounds over a 4 month period by cutting out anything “white” and beer/wine. Try to keep to that same standard today with a cautious eye towards the calorie and sodium counts. I’ve noticed how most fast food and sit down restaurants really over-salt just about everything.

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You racist.

Donna

July 31st, 2012
5:27 pm

Before I go to a restaurant I check it out online and see what is on the menu along with the calorie count on each item. Then I know what i could eat at a reasonable amount of calories.

FCM

July 31st, 2012
5:57 pm

Perhaps if we priced it by the calorie it might. (I mean the avg Quarter pounder meal has 990 calories and is about $7 so .007/calorie ….now think if we made that a bit higher).

But no calories alone will not do it unless you are already counting calories.

Kar

July 31st, 2012
6:08 pm

I think it would surprise people if they coul see the nutritional count on supposely healthy things. Salads that are over 1,000 calories, sandwiches that have 3,000 mg of sodium, etc. Even vegetarian entrees that have more fat and calories than the entries with meat.

Dave

July 31st, 2012
6:31 pm

Homeschooler,

I would respect your opinion if you also objected to what a lot of red states are requiring women to do these days to obtain legal abortions. We should not treat citizens as if they are too stupid to make their own informed decisions.

motherjanegoose

July 31st, 2012
7:36 pm

@ Dave…do you read the AJC? Yesterday POLITIFACT called LIAR PANTS ON FIRE to Obama as he said that Romney backed a bill that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape. I get frustrated when elected officials lie and get caught doing so. What else are they telling us that is false?
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jul/25/barack-obama/romney-abortion-rape-incest/

Shut your grunt hole

July 31st, 2012
8:07 pm

Shut it MJG. You don’t know as much as you think you do. You’re an annoying member of the human race.

motherjanegoose

July 31st, 2012
8:45 pm

@Shut…I read that in the paper and thought I would pass it along. I do not know everything…that is for sure. I learn stuff when I read things here and in the news. There are thousands of people who do like me and since you do not know me I am amused at your comment. Who knows…you may be more annoying than me. The AJC is TWG’s boss? That is where I read the politifact and I simply thought I would pass it along. Methinks people have the right to know if our president is lying. If Romney is caught lying, I want to know that too….anyone else? Politifacts are very interesting and they shed light on both parties. More people should take time to check them out!

Observer

July 31st, 2012
9:34 pm

Homeschooler, totally agree with you. Depending upon the government to pass a law on something so common sensical? Use your brains folks, eat more than you work off, guess what happens? The consumer sets the pace on what they expect from restaurants and restaurants follow. Ask the restaurants about caloric content or research it yourselves. The comment about caloric content being mandated in restaurants and “this should be a federal law” is dumbfounding.

Penguinmom

August 1st, 2012
12:29 am

Noticed an advert on the counter at our local McD that had foods grouped by calories. I assumed it was an attempt to tout their lower calorie offerings but maybe it’s in response to the ruling that allowed the health care law to stand.

Fred ™

August 1st, 2012
12:32 am

As a dieting fat boy having the calories posted would be a blessing. Panda Express has their calories posted on their website so I actually knew the calorie count before I ever went there for the first time. I’ve gotten to where I check out the nutrition facts on places that have it posted before I go there. I was surprised as hell to find out an Egg McMuffin is only 300 calories. While never my favorite dish, if I’m out and in a hurry I’ll snatch one of those for breakfast. Heck a sausage McMuffin is only 450.

DevilDog Oz

August 1st, 2012
12:39 am

Yes, it does change what I order and this is a Cali deal. When I saw that almost any dessert in ‘Outback’ is 1,000+ calories (yeah, I get it, share it with someone you love), it made me forego the traditional dessert by ordering the three tequila sampler… not sure if that was Cali’s intent but it worked for me!

Atlanta Mom

August 1st, 2012
7:54 am

I too was surprised at the calorie counts on the menus in CA. I think it’s useful because even if you aren’t eating at one of those places that post calories, that information must be implanted in your mind at some point.
My local Panera posts calories on many of their sandwiches. Truth be told, I am less likely to grab a breakfast sandwich, now that I’ve seen the counts.

Rick in Grayson

August 1st, 2012
8:03 am

Calories posted…good idea. Amount of SATURATED FAT and SUGAR even better!

motherjanegoose

August 1st, 2012
8:19 am

Egg Mc Muffin is the ONLY thing I like at mc Donald’s, so I rarely eat there. This is mostly due to the fact that it was one of the few places open ( in the area) when I got off of work at Wal Mart during college and hence I ate it way too much. The other choice was Denny’s and we would stop there for breakfast at midnight…good memories with friends! Unless I am on the road, I rarely eat breakfast out. I am at the level in most hotels, that I get a comp free breakfast. My favorites are Hilton Garden Inn and Embassy Suites. Both cooked to order…no telling how many calories but I usually eat a granola bar for lunch.

mom

August 1st, 2012
8:40 am

When our child become seriously ill and was hospitalized at CHOA, we spent several days there eating in their cafeteria. We were surprised to see the calorie counts listed, it was the first time I had ever seen this. It absolutely changed what I ordered when I saw it and ordered accordingly. It is a great idea!

Fan of this blog

August 1st, 2012
9:25 am

@ Shut

Your a loser and hater. MJG is one of the more important ones here. If You don’t like what we say then go away.

TWG where is todays blog? This is 2 days in a row!

non committal mind reader

August 1st, 2012
9:44 am

I’m 6′ and 167lbs. I eat anything I want…. and don’t over eat. Calories on the menu would change nothing for me.

Which goes to another point: All this regulation to display calories… attempts to “downsize” portions…. are bogus. They are half hearted attempts to control what the market cannot control (people’s eating). Instead, they are intrusive and costly attempts that hurt people like ME, who have enough discipline and self control to eat sensibly. If the government wants people to control their eating, find ways to punish the offenders and not the other 65% of the population that does not have this problem.

motherjanegoose

August 1st, 2012
9:54 am

@ fan…important…not so much but thanks. Regular and long time….yes. At 52, I have learned this:
I know a LOT about say 100 things and very little about thousands of other things. I enjoy reading other folk’s comments here, as it has stretched my mind and made me think!

Animal Control

August 1st, 2012
9:55 am

Knowing the calories definately affects my choices. I measure calories in the amount of miles I would have to run to get rid of them, so eating a 1300 calorie hamburger meal knowing I would have to run 13 miles to get rid of it will definately sway my choice to a smarter food choice. It’s a smart way to educate people as well, as to how their food choices affect their waist line.

My Two Cents

August 1st, 2012
9:59 am

I want to know how much sodium and sugar are in the recipes as well as the fat sources.

HB

August 1st, 2012
10:28 am

MJG, the lies that are being told are frustrating, but since you brought up the President’s lie, it’s worth mentioning that PolitiFact has Romney’s tally of “Pants on Fire” at more than double President Obama’s (13 to 6), and his percentage of all degrees of false statements is significantly higher as well (43% compared with the President’s 29%).

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/mitt-romney/
http://www.politifact.com/personalities/barack-obama/