Menu Labeling

obamacaremoneyOne dictate of the Affordable Care Act mandates calorie information be included on menus. There have been restaurant regulations in the past but these new rules expand the requirements.

It is anticipated this new labeling will cost the restaurant industry $1 billion to implement which, of course, will be passed along to the consumer (a discussion for another Minute).

If our goal is weight loss, is there any evidence that shows providing more nutrition information will be useful? Not really. We have real world experience from locales who were ahead of this curve which reveal calorie information does NOT make a difference. We say we’re influenced by it. We hope it will make a difference. We may change our food orders temporarily. But there is no evidence to indicate we will make substantive, permanent changes in our ordering habits that results in weight loss or improved health.

The Lancet, a well respected British medical journal, published a series of articles devoted to obesity and makes this statement: Despite isolated areas of improvement, no country to date has reversed its obesity epidemic. Depressing isn’t it?

As a long practicing nutrition professional I am very concerned about the incidence and degree of overweight and obesity in this country. Of equal concern is that while making no progress we continue to do more of the same: more information, more labeling, more restrictions, more regulations and more food “sin” taxes.  All of which has produced nothing. It’s time to try another approach. What would you do if you were put in charge?

Talk to me and be well,


PS I see the food day celebration just this week includes: Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, Banana Creme Pie Day, National Pound Cake Day, National Cheese Doodle Day and National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day. Weight problem? Who us?

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An open and shut case

refrigerator-magnetsHow many times does the average person open the refrigerator? You know I can hear you counting.

A recent Wall Street Journal article (on a completely different topic) pointed to Whirlpool’s research which claims a family of four opens the fridge 40 – 60 times each day! While we could discuss the energy lost while browsing those shelves, I think about our nutrition choices. What’s at eye level and what’s in the dark recesses of your fridge?

If you want those planned-overs used, keep them at eye level in plastic wrap. If you’re trying to avoid the humongous slice of cheesecake your skinny teenager brought home from the restaurant, wrap it in foil and put it on the bottom shelf. Planning interior spaces is not just for your decorator.organizing-your-fridge-picture

We know we need to make healthy foods as convenient as the chips or cookies we grab. Most of us have a plan for mealtime, but snacks are often unplanned and hence contribute few nutrients but lots of calories to the day.

Putting as much thought and ritual into your snacks as you do for meals increases the likelihood your choices will be healthier and the food will taste better!

An oft quoted study published in Psychological Science a few years back suggested a ritual pause before you eat helps you savor your food. The food will taste better because you have become a mindful eater. Use a special plate, say grace, admire the look of that food, enjoy the aroma perhaps even the sound of your food. Those rituals heighten your appreciation of its taste. And by the way, the calories eaten in foods “snarfed” while standing over the sink still count!

Why not try a new snack ritual to be well.


PS It’s heart month – what are you doing to maintain your healthy heart?

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