You know what makes me laugh? Seeing some of the options under “Healthy Choices” or “Lighter Fare” on a restaurant menu. Because sometimes, they’re not actually that healthy at all.
I mean, who decides what is a “healthy” choice? Do they have a background in nutrition? Are they a dietitian? Did they enter the ingredients into a nutrition processing software to see its nutrition information? Do they even really understand what constitutes a “healthy” choice? Not always.
Sometimes the menu items under those headings don’t even have criteria, so its up to the discretion of whoever wrote the menu. One of my favourite examples is finding “Yogurt layered with granola and fruit with a drizzle of honey” under the “Healthy Choices” on breakfast menus. That meal is going to be packed with added sugars from the yogurt and granola, not to mention the honey. And considering that granola is often over 250 calories per half cup, this option may be even more calorie dense than one of the options on the regular menu!
At some restaurants there is criteria for the options labelled as a “Healthy Choice”, so at least there is some degree of discrimination behind it. Most of the time I find that criteria is based on being under a certain number of calories. On the plus side, you know that you won’t be eating an entire day’s worth of calories in one meal. But an item’s calorie count doesn’t say anything about other important nutrition considerations such as its sugar content, its fat content, how much sodium it contains, whether its made from whole grains, or whether it contains fruits or vegetables. I’ve seen some menu items labelled as a “Healthy Choice” that still have more than three quarters of your day’s allowance of sodium, and others that are basically just refined carbohydrates with little other nutritional value. Essentially the “Healthy Choices” section on menus often really just means “The Least Unhealthy Options”.
Now I’m not one to say that we always need to be making health-conscious choices at restaurants. Food is meant to be enjoyed too! But for people who do want to make healthier choices when eating out, it’s important to be aware that the “Lighter Options” section of restaurant menus (while having good intentions) may not always be that healthy.
Do you agree/disagree?