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For far too long I have been eating guilt free.
I could only guess if, or pretend that, restaurant salad was actually a healthy choice or if the french fries were within an acceptable caloric intake limit. But I never dreamed just how many calories I was actually consuming – until now.
The Federal Health Care Reform Law, dubbed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, requires chain restaurants to begin posting calories and other nutrition information on their menus so consumers can make healthier food selections. The Food and Drug Administration plans to roll out the final regulations before the end of 2011, but some chain restaurants aren’t waiting. I got my first glimpse at it this week at Islands Burgers and quite frankly, I was stunned.
I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that an order of Chili Cheese French Fries is more than 3,200 calories, twice the normal calories a typical woman should consume in a day. Add a one-third pound burger and that jumps to 4,500 calories— without a beverage. And that salad I’ve been ordering? Well it is a whopping 1,700 calories: not exactly a virtuous alternative. A healthy diet is generally considered 2,000 per day.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “Giving consumers clear nutritional information makes it easier for them to choose healthier options that can help fight obesity and make us all healthier.” I have to agree. Rather than my usual salad, I chose the turkey burger at 600 calories. Normally, it wouldn’t have been my first choice, but after seeing the number of calories in other menu items, I found it rather delicious and satisfying.
Adding menu information is required under the new law for all chain restaurants and retail food establishments with more than 20 locations. In addition, vendors who own or operate 20 or more vending machines must post calorie information for food sold in a vending machine, unless the required nutrition information is already visible on individual packages of food inside the machine. Salad bars will be required to list each item separately.