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Calorie Labeling and your weekend dinner plans

I am constantly struggling with my weight.  If I don’t walk about 5 miles a day I gain weight — and if I eat out with any regularity at all I gain weight.  The switch that makes my brain relate what I’m eating to my weight and health just shuts off when I’m at a restaurant.  And without that switch — I’m out of control.

Ezra Klein is discussing that experience in his post, Calorie Labeling In Action, today

All quite delicious. When I got back to the office, though, I decided to see what it added up to. First, I looked up the cookie. A solid 450 calories, with 19 grams of fat. Yikes. But what might have actually changed my purchase was knowing the content of my sandwich: According to the nutrition calculator, 525 calories.

The calories in the cookie weren’t startling. But their calories relative to my sandwich proved a bit off-putting. I could pretty much have ordered a second sandwich for the caloric cost. Buying them without the information, it was easy enough to just consider them a side dish. As it happened, the cookie was more like a second lunch. I wouldn’t have ordered a second lunch. Good to know.

I had that EXACT experience with a Subway sandwich and a cookie a few years ago.  Their cookies are only in the 200 calorie range but, they’re puny.  I got two that day (440 calories) and NEVER did it again.

When it comes to calories knowledge isn’t just power — it’s control.  And it’s not just me:

The following table comes from a Health Impact Assessment prepared by the County of Los Angeles on calorie labeling laws. It shows how much of the whole county’s projected weight gain would be averted if calorie labeling got X percent of restaurant patrons to make average decisions that were Y calories smaller

Follow the links and take a look (Ezra has a link to a graph) — it’s pretty impressive!  And since it’s likely you won’t find the label on the menu at your favorite restaurant, spend a couple of minutes looking at the nutrition information on their website before you go.

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47 Responses

  1. Michael Jackson is still dead

  2. don’t eat that cookie.!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I have added a few lbs. since it got hot here. I just do not want to go outside and do anything! I garden and do my own yard work and that usually keeps my weight in control but I am doing the bare minimum now.
    Or maybe I’m drinking more because Obama is scaring the bejesus out of me! Lots of extra empty calories there.
    Thanks for the reminder about eating out, though. I do want to avoid any extra calories if at all possible.

  4. So many people know nothing about dieting or nutrition. I have a friend who wears it as a badge of honor that she forgoes breakfast and waits for lunch. She is sure this will help her lose weight. But that’s exactly wrong. People who eat breakfast are on average seven pounds lighter than people who don’t. Indeed, people should eat most of their calories during the day, when they are expending energy.

    I’m not sure about calorie labeling. I’m not convinced it will work because I think part of the problem here is that we are too weight obsessed.

    • I would probably eat the cookie and forgo the sandwich.

    • I wouldn’t mind being LESS weight obsessed. But, my problem is that when I don’t give it a consistent amount of thought, I gain weight until it is dangerous!

      And I’ve got diabetes — so I actually have to watch a lot of the details just to manage my blood sugar.

      In any case, a lot of people have to watch something-or-other: Sodium, Fat-Calories, Carbohydrates and whatever it is, it’s easier to watch when you’ve got the label right there.

      • No, I agree. I just don’t want to go out on a Friday night to an expensive restaurant and see how many calories I’m consuming. I wouldn’t find that relaxing.

        • You’ve probably never been out with people with weight problems who stress over every mouthful. I have a friend who guesstimates 7 bites of anything is equal to 400 calories, but gets distracted, loses count, and gets all nervalated. That’s not relaxing, either. She’s probably way overestimating the number of calories and if she knew, she could decide how much to eat and relax.

  5. Sadly, I would probably eat the cookie and pass on the sandwich, given my druthers.

  6. I love to eat. I do it for comfort and entertainment and it shows on my scale. In January, I changed my lifestyle and started eating healthy and exercising. It’s working but, it’s not easy because I would rather eat all that yummy bad stuff.

    It’s not hard to find out what you should eat, its hard to follow the advice. A person has to be committed and different people have different hardships when it comes to changing their habits. It’s going to take me at least 2 years and I have it a lot easier than other folks. I really only have to fight myself and I can change my personal environment pretty easily. People are not very understanding and in fact, there is an effort underway to demonize fat people.

    • now the msm is saying he was just letting by or mabey looking at the floor …. you would have 2 be brain dead will buy that story line .

      • Ha!! And, he was using 2 fingers to scratch his cheek.

      • What’s great is that the frat boy sphere is going with “It makes me like him more.” yes, the leader of the free world checking out a 16 year old’s a$$ while knowing he’s being photographed and not caring and knowing she’s related to someone standing there is extremely likeable. Forget health care, next the blogosphere will be agitating to lower the age of consent.

    • No doubt about it, that pic does look bad. But apparently there’s video footage that shows that he wasn’t in fact checking out her booty. He was looking that way to offer his arm to another lady. But I can’t find the video. YouTube said it had been removed. Whatsagoingon?

      I’m bored! Please, somebody find me that video. 😛

      • there is a link 2 it on the link that i posted
        and by the is that vid . your talking about it always cut away so you cant see her. well you know what i mean

      • The video is at the bottom of the page at boogieman’s link. It does appear to vindicate both men.

        But, what’s with Obama’s pants? Can’t he afford to get some that fit?

        • Based on the video, Obama doesn’t look so bad. (Even as much as I despise him, I have to be truthful.) Sarkozy was definitely checking her out, though – look at the very end.

  7. Now I know about this, I think I’ll eliminate cookies, and keep up with the delicious salad sandwiches!

  8. Every man in the world knows that Obootywatcher was trying to check the woman out, without looking like he was checking the woman out. And, ever single even remotely plausible explaination for why he wasn’t checking the woman out will be floated. Isn’t that his wife coming down the stairs behind him? Even more evidence that he was doing a classic under cover booty check. Everyone (dudes anyway) knows that it’s like Tourette’s, whenever it is an absolutely terrible time to look, that is when you will have an irresitable impulse to look. Bah! I would not care even a little except that he lies constantly and the media lies constantly for him.

    • Obootywatcher hey thats preety good one

    • And some women know it too. We’re not all so gullible or unaware.

      • I live in the state of “BUSTED!”

        Now tell me this, do women do a lot of “checking out” because I’ve never busted my girlfriend.

        • Sometimes, but not as often as guys do because we’re simply not as visually oriented.

          And BTW, I don’t get bent out of shape at men quickly and furtively checking out a passing woman. It’s quick, it’s instinctual, often they don’t even realize they’ve done it, and it’s how they are wired. No big deal, doesn’t make them pigs – that is a normal and healthy part of a man’s sexuality. I hate ragging on men as sexist pigs because they looked for a microsecond. That’s healthy, folks. Gimme a break. Leering, and staring to the point of making women uncomfortable is different – that’s a volitional objectifying thing, and they need to be slapped.

          • I know it’s been said that men are more visual, but I don’t think that is totally true. I think they may be more responsive to feminine visual clues.

            But go ahead and ask them visual details. Not as good as women…

            Her hair was strawberry blond, she had silver drop earrings, hazel eyes, blue jeans (low-rise), a french manicure, a toe ring, and a little star tat on her wrist.

            White woman, sorta average height, not too curvy.

        • Now and again people surprise you with their male beauty-but it doesn’t happen often.

          I know one person locally, he was like a Greek God, women would eye him up day and night.
          He was the local policeman and basically faithful to his Swedish girlfriend. (who was one of my best friends).

        • Not me. Apparently I always walk around in a daydream as even my friends are like “Didn’t you see me? I was waving right at you.”

          The most attractive thing in a bloke is a great sense of humor.

      • Plus, some of us like Girls. Although I find I can be pretty blatant about checking girls out if I cover with “I really like your __fill in the clothing___!”

    • it’s interesting to compare the treatment this footage is getting to the vid of his bow to the Saudi King lol!

  9. I think Mayor Bloomberg forced the NYC chain restaurants to put up menu nutrition labels. I haven’t been in a fast food restaurant to notice though. Haven’t seen any labels at the drive-thu either.

    Well, I am not sure that I could ever count calories too closely. I just know good basics, like: eat fruits and veggies everyday, exercise daily, and keep house clear of junk food. If I want a chocolate bar or something, I have to get up and walk to the store for it. Also, I tell myself: it’s “okay” to feel a little bit hungry sometimes.

    Restaurant: I usually skip appetizer for a drink, order whatever I want to eat, but never finish it–I get full. Not FULL, but full. (Sometimes take home leftovers.) I rarely order dessert since I’m not hungry by then, but it’s ok to have some. So I’ll basically have two drinks and 1/2–3/4 of dinner.

    I don’t think about the calories but it’s important to know calorie basics, rec daily allowance and BMI, etc.

    (Also, there is a calorie counter app on iPhone, I think.)

  10. BTW, Katie, I’m sitting here reading your diet thread and stuffing my face with McDonalds. Help meeee!

    • drop the chalupa!

    • I know what you mean. Today has not gone as expected, so what did I do to make myself feel better.

      LUNCH – went to a restaurant (my first time in the place) – I ordered one of the specials (Seafood Notre Dame – shrimp, scallops and calamari in a creamy buttery sauce over linguine).

      The special came with a shrimp bisque (the soup of the day) that was so rich and creamy I could feel the gut fat growing with each spoonful.

      I needed liquid therapy so I got the tangerine citrus crush (they didn’t have any mojitos – my new favorite).

      Then the bucket of seafood notre dame came out, along with the cheery waitress with her “no one leaves here hungry”. If I thought the shrimp bisque was rich, the creamy sauce on my entree was just short of Warren Buffett.

      I went through half of it, bagged the other half and ordered a slice of cheesecake for desert. 🙂 Yup, I ate it.

      The labeling would not have stopped that – I’d just now KNOW how guilty I should feel instead of just guessing.

      • If I thought the shrimp bisque was rich, the creamy sauce on my entree was just short of Warren Buffett.
        That was hilarious, MMW. I’m stealing that one.

    • Stop!!! DON’T eat between meals and DON’T take seconds!!


    • I just finished off a ginormous stromboli. Heh. But I usually don’t have a weight problem at all, though lately with it being so godawful hot and not walking with the dogs regularly, I’ve gained a few.

  11. I’m an all day snacker. It worked out real well when I was young and had an ultra high metabolism(those were the days). My days were spent working or exploring and my evenings dancing. I married a couch potato with no rhythm and had 5 children. It’s been hard reminding myself that I have to pay more attention to what I eat and serving sizes. For a somewhat small person I can pack food away.

    • One of the problems with snacking (unless it’s low carb veggies) is that it keeps blood sugars up at an unacceptably high level if you are diabetic.

      And that spoils all the fun.

  12. I often gain weight because I have no appetite. When I’m upset about something (which seems to be often lately, I’m experiencing some pretty horrendous personal stress right now), I just don’t want anything at all to eat. The only way I can even get food past my lips without feeling nauseated by it (purely an emotional reaction) is to eat something horrible for me that tastes good. So I find myself eating way too much bread, chips, etc, but truly, during these times, if I could survive on nothing without being so light headed that I couldn’t function, I would really and truly eat nothing. I’m just not hungry.

  13. Too true about knowledge. I lost a pile of weight when I started reading the numbers.

    • Mom use to say the first pounds of any diet come off the brain…in that we suddenly become aware ( again)of how many calories things are. Blogging the last year and a half has not helped in the pounds dept.

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