I was perusing CNN this morning (trying to get up the motivation to actually do my job…), and I found this article.
If you don’t have the time to read it, the basic gist is that at least 1 in 5 restaurants have calorie listings that are at least 100 calories below the actual count. Personally, I’m not surprised. I mean no offense to the restaurant industry, but come on … a) they damn well know that people are going to look at those calorie counts and potentially avoid their restaurant because it makes us feel guilty; b) a lot of restaurants (I’m specifically thinking of a place like Panera here) have those foods made by a different person each time, so yeah … those counts are going to be a bit off based on the individual throwing your meal together; and c) even if they’re given specific measurements, that’s not guaranteeing that all branches of the restaurant use the exact same brand of food in their offerings, and very often different brands means different calorie counts – I’d even be willing to bet that a lot of places know that and use the calorie count from the lowest-calorie brand they offer. Not to mention, none of those counts usually includes things like cheese, condiments, or anything else that might increase the count. Subway for instance posts their calories based on bread, meat, and veggies. No cheese, no mayo, etc. I don’t know about you, but on the off-chance that hell freezes over and I’m stuck eating at a Subway, I’m definitely going to use at least cheese to add some semblance of flavor to that roll.
While I don’t find it particularly surprising, I do find it rather annoying. Although I’m not an avid calorie-counter, I will often try and figure out my POINTs for Weight Watchers based on a restaurant’s website when I can. I always add a POINT or two just to make sure I’m giving myself enough leeway, but come on … the article said that one restaurant had a product that was around 1000 calories over what they reported. You just can’t account for that, and talk about frustrating when you’ve been doing all you can and still gain weight.
Granted, that’s why Will and I maybe eat out twice a month, if that, but still … not everyone can get home and cook all the time. And even we don’t necessarily “cook” so much as we sift through the freezer praying that there are leftovers to be had. A lot of people simply can’t find the time to cook when there’s work followed by soccer followed by swimming followed by baseball, etc. Sometimes eating out is the only option, and when you have kids, you’re sort of stuck with a smaller variety of restaurants, so you just hope that the calorie counts are accurate.
Personally, I hope this is a wake-up call to those restaurants that do report their calories. If you’re going to do it, at least try and be as accurate as possible in doing so. I’d rather they over-estimate so that I’m pleasantly surprised when I lose more than I thought I would, rather than gaining when I thought I should lose …