As a dietitian, I'm always counting calories in my head (unless I really don't want to face the fact that what I'm about to indulge in would be completely ruined if I figured it out). While I still certainly splurge on less-than-healthy foods, my desire to know what I'm getting myself into nutrition-wise always gets the best of me. So you can imagine my delight that as I go get my coffee at Starbucks or get some lunch at Panera, all the basic information I need is posted right there to see. And does it sway me from indulging in the muffin top or donut? Heck yes it does!
While restaurants of all kinds are having to reveal the stats about what they're offering, it has unfortunately not come along with an impressive improvement in the overall nutritional status of what they're offering. A study was recently published that found that little was done to improve the overall nutritional value of the foods being offered at most restaurants despite the requirement to post the nutritionals next to the description.
While this doesn't surprise me, I do have to commend many restaurants for trying to provide people with healthier options in addition to the not so healthy ones. And while, yes, it would be great if all restaurants (big and small, fast and sit down) would provide healthier options, there are a lot of people out there who wouldn't be happy about that.
I don't mind that the restaurants haven't improved upon all the foods they are providing. I think it allows for the consumer to make a smarter, more calculated decision when it comes to what they're going to order. For someone like me, seeing that a particular dishes contains a large number of calories is certainly going to deter me from ordering that... but that's my decision to make. I appreciate knowing because the more informed you are, the more capable you are to make the decision that's right for you. While it would be great if everyone thought along these lines, it's not our decision to make. And I guarantee there would be many, many unhappy people out there if they were forced to only have healthy options to choose from.
So by all means restaurant menu-makers, keep the healthier options coming - but for those who enjoy splurging every once in a while, just learn to appreciate that you are at least well informed.