Published March 13, 2016

Calories On Menus - Yes or No?

by Helen M. Ryan
Pastry and coffee on table

Do you read the calories on menus? Or do you look the other way?

I guess it depends, but it is fairly surprising when you do look.

At California Pizza Kitchen a few years ago I was going to order one of their salads, thinking it was a healthier choice than the pizza.

Boy, I was wrong.

The salad was loaded with calories and fat. I was shocked and surprised, but pleasantly surprised since I would pick pizza over salad any day. The salad was 1289 cals & 83g fat; the ENTIRE veggie pizza, 1069 calories 31g of fat. WTF? The salad was a whopping 1,289 calories with 83 grams of fat, while the ENTIRE veggie pizza was 1069 calories and 31 grams of fat.

If you share your meal with someone you save even more calories, fat and money (SCORE!). Half that pizza would have been only about 500 calories and 15 grams of fat. Compare that to the salad. Huh. Of course, you can argue the nutritional value of salad vs. pizza, but I am looking at calories and fat here, and it was pretty startling.

Fast forward to last week  when I was tired and cranky and wanted a little treat. I headed for Jack in the Box for something I haven't had in years: an Oreo cookie shake. As I was waiting in front of the menu board I discovered that the small shake was 800 calories. I did a double-take there. 800 calories? I am not one to frown at sweets or even high calorie counts, but this was crazy. I could have done 400 or even 500 calories, but 800?

No wonder people can't lose weight: we have no idea how fattening dining out really is.

So I just ordered an unsweetened iced tea, driving away in disgust and sadness. I wanted that shake, damn it.


If you are trying to lose weight it IS a good idea to look at the nutritional value beforehand. Many places no longer put nutrition information on the menu but much of that information is available online. I know it's a pain, but it really is eye-opening, especially if you think you are 'doing everything right' and not seeing the results.

Look before you leap and you can still have an enjoyable and healthy dinner that won't crash your diet when it's not intended.