It’s the kind of afternoon where you don’t feel like having lunch at the Caf, so you head to the nearest fast food chain instead. As you’re about to order a sandwich or a burger or a milkshake, you see little black numbers, next to each menu item, that weren’t there before. As you spot the four-digit number next to your order, you realize that your favorite sandwich is about 1,100 calories.
Do you still order it?
This scenario will become ubiquitous soon—in the healthcare legislation, the nation’s big restaurant chains will be required to post the calories of each menu item.
According to the LA Times, “[The] State law that goes into effect Saturday [Jan. 1, 2011] requires calorie counts to be displayed at restaurants with 20 or more locations in California.”
There are disadvantages and advantages—but overall, it’s a good thing.
Knowing the thick milkshake you’re enjoying has exactly 712 calories may ruin your enjoyment of it, but it may increase the amount of planning you do for meals. Everybody hears about the nation’s obesity rate, especially in children, but many people may not realize that their favorite meal has so many calories.
Without the calorie postings, people could potentially eat thousands of calories in one day and not even realize it. And they do.
Some say that the law won’t do any good because people will still order the same things, regardless of the caloric amount. Of course, people can simply order the food anyway and disregard the calories, but that’s their decision.
The legislation can’t force people to make healthy eating choices, but it can force them to be aware of it. Those numbers aren’t hard to miss, so ignorance is no excuse.
You can wave away the calorie postings or make use of them, but be aware that they exist. Nobody’s going to shove a thousand-calorie meal down your throat; you have options. Whether your eating habits are healthy, unhealthy, or middle-of-the-road, take responsibility for them.