Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm eating out, don't inform me!

Here I (Todd) am in San Francisco. Views from the hotel downtown...




Not too shabby.

A few months ago, Listgirl and I headed out for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. (CPK) Readers of Listgirl's blog know that we can't get enough pizza, particularly me. So there we were, sitting down and opening up the menus when we discovered that they had added nutrition information to the menu.


This is due to new regulations in California that affects chain restaurants. We had not seen it in person before this trip.

Thus the fact that the Chipotle Chicken pizza that I love is 1198 calories was right there in my face. I eat 2/3 of it for a total of 799 calories. Hefty but not outrageous for eating out. (When I cook at home, my dinners tend to be 300-500 calories.)

What else was interesting on the menu?
  • The Waldorf Chicken Salad is 1570 calories, more than nearly all the pizzas on the menu, and close to recommended daily intake for a petite woman.
  • The pasta dishes on the menu range from 890-1612 calories. I for one would rather have pizza.
  • If I wanted to add a delicious key lime pie...839 extra calories
  • Feel like chocolate? The turtle sundae is 1538.
I don't mean to pick on CPK here, I love them and will continue to go. It was this article which inspired me to blog about this topic.

The article states that CPK is going to reprint their menus without the nutrition information. The regulations require the information is made available, not right there on the menu. So why are they bothering to make the change? They say "customers just didn't like it much." People want to escape and not feel guilty when they go out.

Now let me say this... Losing weight is hard. Staying healthy is hard. We're all too busy. Blowing off steam can be a great and healthy thing. I'm opposed to "diets." I could say more but that's for another day.

When I hear people don't want to know how much they are eating, it shouldn't be a surprise. I see a lot of willful ignorance when it comes to calories. Not so many people seem to know that a 1/2 hour workout probably burns 200-400 calories while a big meal out can add 1000 more than you needed. Or that 3500 calories = 1 pound of weight. Or what is likely to have more calories between food item x and food item y.

But on the other hand, it's a surprise. Billions of dollars are spent on diet and exercise products yearly in the US. You'd think that folks would be happy to be able to be lazy (i.e. not proactively look it up) and still make an informed choice when eating out.

The psychology of body image is continually fascinating. I've heard that all of the news and products make some people throw up their hands and conclude that the prospect of losing weight is hopeless. Those are probably some of the same people who asked for the calorie counts to be removed from the CPK menu.

If I had the answers, I'd be out selling products and claiming my part of those billions. But I don't. Cooking light fare at home (most meals) and exercise works for me. And the occasional CPK indulgence... my next one is December 3rd with Dave and Moji. Can't wait!

PS - Today's photos brought to you by iPhone. It's not as clear and the resolution not as good, but it's the camera I have, so it'll do.
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