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A Case of Calorie Content Counting

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You may have noticed that many menus at your favourite eateries now list the caloric content of their food and drink items. This is the result of new provincial legislation called the Healthy Menu Choices Act. As of January 1, 2017, all food-service chains that have 20 or more locations in Ontario must list the caloric content of the food and drinks on their menus.

This legislation is not perfect, mainly due to the fact that calories do not paint a complete nutritional picture of food or beverages. There are also exceptions in the Act that allow some types of eateries to go without listing calories, including smaller chains or family owned businesses and penitentiaries, leaving people eating at those locations unaware of the caloric content of the food they are being served. On the topic of calories, let’s look at three of what I consider the most sought after post-smoker snacks: pizza, nuggets and poutine. I must apologize if someone’s favourite food it not represented in this list.

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Now these numbers may surprise you, but I think it is important to consider how different the composition of these foods can be. Two items can be followed by the same number of calories on a menu but differ greatly in the quantity and type of energy and nutrients they provide to your body. Though there appear to be no plans to create further requirements for the nutritional information on restaurant menus at this time, I hope that eateries will soon need to provide a more wholesome picture of their meals’ nutritional content. Including nutritional information on menus in an accessible format could become an important public health tool.

In the spirit of learning, I also wanted to provide you with a snapshot of how much food 400 calories can be. You could have 2 slices of pizza, half of a small poutine or 10 chicken nuggets. I consulted with my friend who is a registered dietician and for 400 calories you could also snack on all of the following: a slice of multigrain toast with peanut butter, a boiled egg, a handful of crackers, and yogurt with berries. Bon appétit QL!

Jaymie Maddox (3L) is a contributor to Juris Diction.

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