To Know Or Not To Know

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on November 19, 2008

Good evening everyone!

My goodness your comments are just heart-warming! I honestly get such a big, goofy grin on my face when I read your comments. The thing is- you are all helping me lead a healthier life because I have gained so much knowledge and so many ideas since I started this blog. It is a win win situation! :D I especially love it when ‘lurkers’ come out of hiding- I used to lurk on Kath Eats and Eat Live Run for ages before I had the guts to post. haha.

My day was good, although I had to drive home from work in a snow storm! Agh!!! The traffic was pretty brutal. Luckily, we’ve had our winter tires on since last winter so it was no problem getting home. (It’s a long story, if you really are curious why we had our winter tires on all summer just ask and I will be happy to entertain you)!

 What would you think if you saw this in your local bakery?


Would a national law requiring calorie counts on chain restaurant menus help curb the obesity epidemic, or would we stay in ‘Dining Denial’?

This article form Newsweek talks about the new regulations that may be introduced regarding mandatory nutrition labeling on all chain-restaurants across the country. 

NEWSWEEK: Why is menu labeling so important?
Kelly Brownell: People are suffering from diet-related diseases like obesity and diabetes in record numbers. And they are eating out more and more. About 50 percent of the food dollar goes to eating outside the home. When people eat outside the home, they eat worse. People really don’t know the calories in the food they’re eating when they do eat out.

The other important reason is just consumers’ right to know. You have whatever clothing you’re wearing now. It has the tag on it that says where it’s made and what it’s made of. Why? You deserve to know. When you buy a packaged food, it says what’s in it. Consumers would be upset if that information was taken away.

Some studies have shown that customers buy meals that average 827 calories at fast-food restaurants—nearly half the recommended daily calorie intake amount. But will labeling really deter a McDonald’s or Wendy’s fan?
People [do] make healthier choices when there are calorie labels. It’s also very important to say on the menu that the average person should consume 2,000 calories a day.

I live in Chicago, where menu labeling is not yet required. I only know from the Starbucks Web site that a low-fat blueberry muffin here contains 320 calories whereas the less virtuous seeming pack of two black-and-white cookies contains a comparatively low 240 calories. Is this one reason why we need menu labeling—that is, most of us have no idea which food is the lesser of two evils?
That’s exactly right. Foods are manufactured with lots of ingredients. You don’t know how much fat something has, or how much sugar. The only way to know is to have some sort of label. The industry will sometimes do things like reduce the fat in an item and crow about the fact that it’s low fat, but they just jack up the sugar. You could end up with exactly the same number of calories, but the perception is that it’s better.

Will labeling ruin the fun—how can you enjoy a piece of cake knowing it has 700 calories?
There are plenty of people who ignore those dire warnings on the cigarette packages.

Do you think people will ignore the menu labels, too?
From a public-health viewpoint, you don’t have to get everyone to sign on to have an impact.

A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health found that Subway restaurant patrons in New York City who saw calorie information, purchased 52 fewer calories-worth of food than did other Subway patrons. Are you surprised it’s not an even bigger difference?
Not so much. There are more people who eat at Subway who are already trying to buy a healthy choice. I’d think you’d get an even bigger effect in other restaurants. By the way, 50 calories is not a trivial amount.

Technomic, Inc., conducted an online survey with 299 New York City adults in August of 2008 to get their reaction to calorie disclosure on menus and menu boards there. Eighty-six percent of participants said menu labeling was a positive move. Is that better than you would have expected?
100 percent of people are not in favor of anything! The vast majority of people support menu labeling. There’s no downside at all.

The Technomic survey also found that 86 percent were surprised by the calorie counts; 97 percent said they were higher than expected. Do we think we’re being more virtuous than we really are unless we’re hit over the head with reality?
I don’t know that it’s so much we feel we’re so virtuous as that restaurant foods tend to be pretty unhealthy. They tend to be high in sugar, salt and fat, and high in portion size. There’s no reason that consumers would know how much sugar or fat is in something.

How will the economy affect our eating habits?
One of the problems with the bad economy is it will drive people toward less-expensive foods. [Fast-food restaurants’] profit margins are higher if they offer big portions. People feel they’re getting a bargain. The incremental cost to them of extra food is almost nothing.

Do you agree or disagree with mandatory nutrition labeling?
What do you think about Kelly Brownell’s
answers to the questions?

Personally, I think it is a great idea. Sure, it may ruin some of the fun of going out to eat, but I still think that healthy individuals can eat all foods in moderation! Just because the restaurant menu says an appetizer is 700 calories doesn’t mean you can never eat it again.

Hopefully, the introduction of nutrition labeling on menus will help people become more aware of exactly what they are putting into their body. People may rethink eating out several times a week if they knew how many calories they were consuming.

Stay tuned tonight for my delicious Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti (say that 5 times fast!)- it doesn’t disappoint! As well as my re-cap of the ‘Who Wore It Better’ Fashion poll!

Call for suggestions: Please let me know if you have any suggestions for Oh She Glows videos!!!!

The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be.

~Horace Bushnell

What have you gotten through in your life that has made you a better person?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

girlrunningaround November 19, 2008 at 6:22 pm

I’m totally for nutrition labeling. I want to know what I’m putting in my body. Like KB said, it’s my right to know.


Halie November 19, 2008 at 6:24 pm

I think it will be a very helpful tool for many people, including me! I don’t necessarily count calories, but I’d like to know if a food item needs to be shared or if it’d be better to save half of something because of a high calorie content.

Would it be too overwhelming to note the allergens in it or list fat, carb, protein content? I think that wouldn’t be half bad either!

Catch ya’ later! Sorry about the bad traffic on the way home!


VeggieGirl November 19, 2008 at 7:46 pm

I’m sooo glad that you created a blog – I love it, and you’re a wonderful fellow blogger!! :-)

I’m FOR nutritional labeling!!!

Can’t wait to see your recipe!!


Maggie November 19, 2008 at 7:50 pm

I think labeling is a GREAT idea. I am always curious when I eat out. I eat out rarely though, and half of the reason is that I don’t know how they prepare the food! I like making my own stuff that is delicious and I know how healthy it is. Great post :)


Mariposa November 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm

i’m all for labeling, im with maggie- i dont eat out too often because i dont know how the stuff is made.. and i know how i make my own food!

although those starbucks petite scones are murder on me.. i dont care how how bad they are for me!


ttfn300 November 19, 2008 at 8:40 pm

you know, I really do believe that many people don’t realize how bad things are for them b/c they’re not used to the ‘tricks’ companies use to make things taste ‘good’. i’ve made the choice to become more knowledgable, but this would definately help on the fly!


AGS November 19, 2008 at 11:03 pm

I’m not for labeling. As much as we’d like to think it is useful to make choices, this is (1) a poor way to socialize people about calories and (2) a rediculous imposition on the restaurant industry. Sure, Starbucks can easily post calories because its items are the same day-in, day-out. What about restaurants where this is not the case? Most of the time when I go out, the food that I order (let’s just say it’s some kind of stuffed pasta) is a one-time feature that day. So what’s the restuarant supposed to do?

I know this is getting long, but I think we also need to look at the larger picture, here. It’s not calories that are the enemy. It’s generally eating too much food combined with too little exercise, and generally making empty calories choices. Our goal should always be to eat close to the source of nature and learn to identify our hunger cues. This is the most tried and true form of “calorie control” — the one that’s been used since the humans have been around.

The point is that calories are not the enemy — poor nutrition is the real problem. What we need are big labels telling us to eat fresh foods (apples, squash, beans, rice, etc.) and to just listen to what your body needs. Most people will keep on purchasing high calorie items (hello, Bic Mac), because they haven’t learned to choose better.


Leah November 20, 2008 at 2:07 am

Since one of my jobs is working in a restaurant I SEE how the food is cooked and it has put me off of a lot of food that I would generally eat at restaurants. For instance… don’t be fooled by all veggie burgers on the menus.. I was horrified when I saw one coming out of the deep fryer one night! And grilled chicken sandwiches? Nope.. deep fried as well.. they are thrown on the grill after deep frying to give them that “just grilled look.” Think of all the prep work that goes into restaurant food.. deep frying food cooks it quicker, thus getting it out to the customers quicker! The sooner customers can eat, the happier they are.

Main point: make sure you INSIST that your food is not deep fried. Make up a story that you are deathly allergic to some oils or peanuts (that may be in oils) and demand that your food is grilled.


Lindsey November 20, 2008 at 11:17 am

I think this is a fabulous idea, and I really hope nutritional labels start popping up everywhere! The sooner the better!


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