Healthcare reform mandates new menu health information.
Photo: Tim Boyd/Getty Images
One of the most important things about the new healthcare reforms is that soon restaurants and other providers of food will be obliged by law to post detailed information about exactly what they are serving to customers. Personal trainer and Live-ilates creator Andrea Metcalf says this is a great and much needed advance.
In New York, thanks to an initiative by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the menu boards of every deli, restaurant, coffee shop or fast food chain must by law contain a complete rundown of the nutritional value of each item printed alongside. It's like a quick dose of reality when seeing what the actual calorie count and fat grams are. It has a profound effect on the way people chose what they eat.

The technique of rationalization over impulse is one I have used for years to guide my clients'—and my own—weight loss plans. There is a good scientific explanation for why there is a difference between your automatic urges are and what you do when you are informed. Between thinking and acting there is a significant change in neuro-transmitters in the brain. No surprise, then, that when nutritional information is included on every menu, as they will be thanks to the healthcare reforms, we are likely to see a noticeable change in what people choose to eat.

In one of the corporate wellness programs I have designed, I made a simple change in the way the calorie count per tablespoon of dressing at the salad bar was labeled. That simple change resulted in the elimination of one entire type of dressing from the menu as employees shifted from a high-calorie to a low-calorie dressing.

So, what should you look for when you see the new calorie counts that will soon be posted alongside foods in restaurants and cafés?

Get Andrea's 3 tips for ordering
Thanks to the new healthcare reforms, some restaurant must include health information on their menus. What should you order? Here are my three key tips for ordering:

Multiply by 10
For the average person to maintain their weight as it is, try this simple formula: Multiply your weight by 10. That is the total number of calories you will need to consume in a day without exercise to maintain your weight exactly as it is.

The Truth About "Low-Fat"
Low-fat does not mean low calories. Most low-fat items have the same or about the same number of calories as the full-fat versions. So if those extra calories are finding their way onto your plate, don't fool yourself by sacrificing taste for fat. Just keep them as a once a week or a once a month option.

Fat Guidelines
According to weight loss experts, fat grams should be kept to no more than 30 to 35 grams per day. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website suggests the following:
  • A 1,600-calorie-per-day diet should contain no more than 18 grams of saturated fat and 53 grams of fat in total.
  • A 2,000-calorie-per-day diet should contain no more than 20 grams of saturated fat and no more than 65 grams of fat in total.
  • A 2,200-calorie-per-day diet should contain no more than 24 grams of saturated fat and no more than 73 grams of fat in total.
  • A 2,500-calorie-per-day diet should contain no more than 25 grams of saturated fat and no more than 80 grams of fat in total.
  • A 2,800-calorie-per-day diet should contain no more than 31 grams of saturated fat and no more than 93 grams of fat in total.
Diet is only half of the battle...get moving with all of Andrea's Live-ilates workout exercises

Watch Dr. Oz's lesson in reading food labels

Master the supermarket with 4 health shopping tips

Do you think the new healthcare reform for chain restaurants is a good step? Share your thoughts below.


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