A Bit of a Downer….

November 23rd, 2010

I had the pleasure of heading to restaurants twice last week for lunch (typically I’m a brown-bagger) and was surprised to spot full nutritional information under each menu item. Last spring, legislation was passed stating that chain restaurants operating more than 20 locations, were required to list nutritional information for each menu item.

I guess it’s been awhile since I’ve been out to eat…at a chain restaurant, anyway. Or maybe I just hadn’t noticed.

But my response echoed my companions – “Wow, what a downer.”

When you go out to eat, especially when it is not that often, it’s nice to treat yourself. I went out prepared to indulge in some French fries and other less than healthy goodness, but I was blown away by the calorie and sodium counts for some of those menu items. And really, that’s kind of the point.

On the first trip, I felt guilty over my original choice, and opted for a salad instead. After all, there is a bathing-suit wearing vacation in my near future. But by the second trip, I decided to ignore the numbers, and just order what I want.

Now, do not get me wrong, I appreciate the information (especially as that vacation gets nearer), but there are times when I would just rather ignore it and enjoy myself. The other problem I had with this change (at the risk of sounding rather cranky) is that it made the menu REALLY hard to read. There was just too much text, too small, and too crowded.

A solution we discussed at one lunch was a nutritional insert. The menu would look as it did before with more white space and larger text, and an insert, similar to what is used for promotions, would simply list the menu item and nutritional data. That way, the diner has the option to review at their leisure – without the information being so “in your face.” Of course, whether or not that fits into current legislation, I just don’t know. But it’s an option I would rather see.

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