When it comes to struggling with weight management there is one thing that a lot of us have in common, eating out too much. Restaurant meals are served in oversized portions. The ingredients are hard to decipher and the calorie counts are difficult to measure even for the people who come up with the menu ideas, as there is so much fluctuation between cooks and store locations. Frequently eating out is highly associated with higher caloric intake as well as higher body fat percentage.
Weight loss doctors, researchers and health advocates have been calling for people to eat at home more and spend less time ordering off menus, but the high-demand society that we live in makes this a difficult change for a lot of people to make, and one that is impossible to mandate.
Since it isn’t realistic to demand restaurants close their doors in the name of better health, advocates have instead proposed that they start adding nutritional information to the menus so that we can all make more health-conscious decisions. A lot of chain restaurants have picked up this practice, and the results of the change are making themselves evident.
A team of researchers took to evaluate the real-life impact on the changes many chain restaurants have made to their menus. Since it is difficult to study the entire adult population, researchers limited their study to one county in Washington State. While this county might not proportionally reflect the demographic of the entire nation, the results are a starting point to determine how the addition of nutritional content on menus is affecting people’s eating choices.
The county chosen for the study was among the first to mandate that menus incorporate nutritional information, so residents there have been exposed to the changes the longest.
The researchers found that increased awareness of fat content, calories and sodium levels on the menu appears to have encouraged diners to make healthier meal choices. After the changes were implemented, sales of foods high in calories, saturated fat and sodium content decreased. At sit-down restaurants researchers found that the sale of healthier meal alternatives increased after the nutritional information was added to the menu.
There is a lot to the old saying “out of sight, out of mind.” If you are confronted with nutritional content then you are going to be reminded of your health goals, and that might make it a bit harder on you to ignore your medical weight loss diet and order something fattening. A lot of people are unaware of the health content of their favorite foods, so there is a chance that to a lot of people the added nutritional content is a big eye-opener on how to eat a healthier diet.
If you don’t see the nutritional information when you are handed a menu next time you are out, then ask your sever if they have it separately. By looking over the nutritional information before ordering you can make sure you are sticking to your medical weight loss plan and not overdoing it unknowingly.