How To Deal with Calorie Counting on Menus

This week, the government announced that businesses with over 250 employees must clearly state calorie information on menus, online menus, and food delivery apps. The law has been approved to get customers to understand more about what they are eating and make ‘healthier choices’.

Positives of Having Calories On Menus

Understanding how much and what is going into our body is an important tool. Here are 3 positives to having calories on menus. 

1. Ability to learn more about food

Some people have no concept of the number of calories in food. Having calories on the menu gives people a chance to learn and be more mindful of their eating to manage their intake better.

2. Support for long term health conditions

Knowing the number of calories for those with long-term health conditions that require weight management through less energy intake can help people manage their illnesses. For example, patients with lifestyle-related Type 2 Diabetes require a degree of nutritional knowledge, including the energy density of different foods.

3. Guidance

Understanding what we are putting into our bodies can be a helpful tool for those who do not see calorie information as a negative thing.

menus with calories

Negatives of Having Calories On Menus

1. Difficult for those who have suffered/suffer with an eating disorder

For people with eating disorders, calorie counting can trigger further problems relating to mental health, such as obsessions and fixations on numbers and calories. 

2. Difficult for those who yo-yo diet

Some people have and are battling weight management, constant dieting, and yo-yo dieting. Having calories on the menu can become an overwhelming experience for people. This could potentially cause anxiety around going out for food. 

3. Negative relationship with food for children

The majority of children are yet to develop their own relationships with food. By pushing high calories as ‘bad, and ‘low calories’ as good may cause children to develop a negative relationship with food, rather than seeing it as fuel.

4. Hinders intuitive approaches to eating

Having the exact calorie numbers on menus stops those that are wishing to take a more intuitive approach to eating due to a history of disordered eating – this can be unhelpful and potentially triggering.

5. Altering of relationship with food 

For those that have a healthy relationship with food and naturally intuitively eat, creating awareness of calories unnecessarily may initiate pre-occupation with figures and alter the relationship with food in a negative way.

Tips On How To Cope with Calories on Menus

  • Avoid giving the calorie section any significance if you are happy with your diet and food intake. 
  • If you’re struggling with your diet and food intake, think about investing time into developing a healthy, balanced diet first without considering calories – often, calorie counting is not required to maintain a healthy body and weight for you.
  • Learn to see the calorie counting system as a tool to utilise if your feel it can improve your food intake without compromising your relationship with food. 
  • Do not invest your time into considering what foods contain what calories if you feel this will negatively affect your mental health or trigger something for you. Be mindful of whether you feel an awareness of calories impacts your relationship with food – remember that it’s not all about calories.
  • If you have a history of disordered eating, use this government change as a way to reinforce your progress of working towards intuitive eating by practising being neutral towards these figures when faced with them.
  • Many restaurants will still have their old menus, ask a server if you could have a menu without the calories.
  • As the law is only past for bigger restaurant chains, see this as an opportunity to support smaller restaurants. If you are aware you might be triggered by calories on the menu make the decision to eat somewhere they aren’t shown.
  • If you are worried and anxious about this change due to a present disordered eating pattern and mental health condition associated with food, then put a plan of action in place. This may mean professional support such as talking therapies and also self-help methods. If you’re struggling with disordered eating, book a consultation with one of our team today. 

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