Nottingham food lovers say ‘ignorance is bliss’ as calories are now printed on menus

If you’ve eaten out this week, you might have noticed something different on the menu. Beneath the description in fine print is the calorie count you’re kidding – and in some cases, that might come as a shock. A three-course pub dinner could add up to more than 3,000 calories, well above the daily recommended 2,000 for a woman and 2,500 for a man.

The nachos weigh in at 783 calories (and that’s without any extra toppings like chili beef); fish and chips racks up an extra 1,551 calories and if you have room for a slice of chocolate fudge cake, that’s another 684 — a grand total of 3,018 calories. The harsh reality could make you lose your appetite. Alternatively, you can have a “lean steak” without fries for 495 calories or a chicken and bacon salad for 458.

This week the government made it a legal requirement for all restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways that employ more than 250 people to display calorie information both on printed menus and online – including delivery platforms – with the aim of fighting obesity and encouraging diners to make healthier choices.

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When Nottinghamshire Live asked food lovers for their views it received a mixed reaction, with some saying it was a good decision for those watching their weight – while others preferred to eat in ‘blissful ignorance’ . Food blogger Marcus Darwent said: “I see it’s helpful if you consider your calorie intake. Personally, I’d love to be able to see a calorie-free menu to stay in blissful ignorance when ordering and possibility of seeing one with calories if I wanted to.”

Notts TV presenter Al Booth had planned to have a mixed grill at a Hungry Horse pub, but when he saw it had over 1,900 calories he swerved. “I had chicken salad instead. Ignorance is actually bliss,” he said. Maurice Moore said: “Going out for a meal isn’t a regular occurrence for us – it’s a special occasion. So we won’t be looking at calorie counts, just eating whatever we want.”

Becky Wilson said: “We don’t eat out regularly and we eat a reasonably mixed diet at home, so having the calories in my face when I’m deciding what to eat isn’t appealing at all. Rather than choosing something fewer calories, I’m probably less likely to eat out.” Like many, Becky thought the best option would be to have two menus, one with calories and one without – a measure introduced by Wagamama.

The new rules only apply to large groups of pubs, restaurants, cafe chains and takeaways in England. Independent businesses employing less than 250 people do not have to provide calorie information. This means Nottingham’s Kushi-ya, Bar Iberico, Cartwheel Coffee and your favorite fries are unaffected, but Domino’s Pizza, pubs such as the Bell Inn and Slug & Lettuce, Starbucks, restaurant chains like Pizza Express and Gusto Italian must now reveal the calorie count.

Food blogger Guys Who Dine commented: “Seeing calories on a menu is new to us as we normally go to independents. We never really thought about it before because we try to eat healthier foods. a menu to tell you. If we dine out, we just order what looks good and not necessarily what’s good for you. It is good for people who are on a diet and need to count what they are consuming. We’re more concerned about how many calories we may have had in our drinks now – maybe more than the food!”

Guys Who Dine Joe Corr and John Gains, with their niece Lawrey Corr at Gusto Italian

Supporters included Vanessa Booth, from West Bridgford, who lost 7lbs and 2lbs thanks to Slimming World. She said: “For people who are counting calories and going out for meals or lunch, when you check the menus and see the amount of food, it gives that person the choice whether or not to choose that particular food. For Personally checking the menus before arriving at the restaurant or pub is helpful and gives you an idea of ​​what they have on offer to see if there is anything healthier and make the right choices. people to think about what they are going to eat.

Tanya Louise commented: “I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Those who aren’t interested will ignore it anyway, but it’s useful information for those who may be trying to diet for health or medical reasons, but still want to dine out.”

Gusto Italian in Upper Parliament Street is one of the restaurants that now have to show calories. Susie Clark, Sales and Marketing Manager, said: “We have added calories to all of our printed menus at Gusto Italian, in line with new legislation, and introduced it alongside the launch of our new Gusto Italian menu. spring last week, which includes lighter seasonal dishes. We’re curious to see if displaying calories on menus changes what our customers order. As a destination for special occasions, we’re proud to offer something something for everyone, whether you’re calorie conscious or not.

Pho, who recently opened a Vietnamese restaurant in Carlton Street, Hockley, has teamed up with nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert to advise customers and staff on the pillars of good nutrition and healthy eating – including, but not be limited to the number of calories.

Beef Brisket Pho at Pho in Hockley
Beef Brisket Pho at Pho in Hockley

Hoping to eliminate the anxieties and fears that calories posted on a menu can generate, Pho and Rhiannon will work together to communicate the nutritional benefits of eating to Pho.

Rhiannon said: “It’s important to remember that calories aren’t everything when it comes to the food we eat. A number displayed on a menu certainly doesn’t dictate your health or the quality of your diet. What these numbers don’t take into account is people’s age, height, or level of physical activity, which can greatly influence the amount of calories a person consumes per day.”

Eating disorder charities have previously challenged the decision, saying evidence shows the inclusion of calories causes anxiety and distress in those affected.

Tom Quinn, a Beat spokesman, said the charity was “extremely disappointed”. He added: “We know from the people we support that including calories in menus can contribute to the worsening of harmful eating disorder thoughts and behaviors, for example, it can increase fixation on restricting calories for people with anorexia or bulimia, or increasing feelings of guilt for those with binge eating There is also very limited evidence that the legislation will lead to a change in eating habits in the general population .

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