Near the beginning of August I had a bit of a revelation.  It all stemmed around meeting my sisters out for lunch at one of my favorite places, Red Robin.  I’ve been more than disappointed by the lack of nutritional information available on the internet but was happy to find Red Robin has an excellent and customizable nutrition page.  My glee was short lived, however, as I found out my favorite burger had over 1000 calories.  You can read about it here.

The post generated more views than I ever anticipated and I must say some of the comments shocked me.  You see, I didn’t feel as though I’d attacked Red Robin for their choice in menu.  I didn’t ask why THEY were selling burgers with over 1000 calories, I asked why WE were… as in Americans in general.  Someone said something along the lines of “how dare they serve ice cream!  those poor adults!”  The statement puzzled me as I’d never attacked restaurants or blamed them for my being overweight.  I never said we should take such things off the market or ban anything.  The only thing I said is I wish restaurants had to put nutritional information next to each menu item.  I don’t think that’s asking a lot.  I think it may be what America needs.

As someone who has struggled with their weight (and by struggle I mean, I generally always wondered why I was gaining weight when I’d been cutting back on how much I eat or taking more walks, watching my weight go up year after year and feeling vaguely helpless to stop it) I can assure you one thing:  Everyone deals with food, weight and exercise differently.  Not everyone is brought up to understand the value of good, healthy food.  Not everyone is even fully aware of what healthy food is.  Others are brought up enjoying the benefits of healthy meals.  Some people incorporate exercise into their lives naturally, others really need to work at it.  Some people enjoy exercise and to others, like myself, it’s a struggle and its uncomfortable.

There is no doubt in my mind I’ve made bad choices in the past and I’m not looking to blame anyone for them.  What I want to convey is simply this:  I had no idea how poor some of my choices actually were.  I really didn’t.  Eating out, as regular of an occurrence as it used to be, had me consuming, on average 1000 more calories than I thought I had been… sometimes more.   I KNOW I would not have made the same decisions had the nutritional information been right there in front of my eyes.

Again, I’m not trying to place blame.  I’m trying to point out that not everyone comes to the table with the same background knowledge and there are a large number of us who could use this information.  Will restaurants lose business because of it?  I don’t know… but I can tell you there are a large number of them losing my business right now due to a lack of availability of nutritional information (which yes, I realize it can vary wildly).  And who knows… maybe it could stop someone from making bad decisions, open their eyes to the choices they make and help them to become a healthier person… and wouldn’t that be worth it?