Counting the Calories Away

Three hour finales should only be reserved for epic movie trilogies like Lord of the Rings. But I made an exception for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser: Couples” finale on Monday — which was a real doozy. Helen Phillips, a 48-year-old retired retail manager and mother of two from Michigan, earned $250,000 prize after dropping 140 pounds. The hottie-potottie mom weighed in at 257 pounds at the start of the show and topped off at 117 pounds during the final weigh in. Helen lost 54.5 percent of her body weight.

Helen Phillips before and after

Helen Phillips before and after

Those figures are imaginary numbers to me. I hate to admit it, but watching the contestants shed hella pounds with exercise and healthy eating habits got me back on my health kick again (yesterday’s Thai buffet at the office doesn’t count). While I have a soft spot for fried chicken and buttery mashed potatoes, I try to eat healthy when I can. Seeing the nutritional content on menus and on food packages really helps me nip those fatty cravings I get when I’m trying to decide on what to eat.

Boston calorie count
For Bostonians, counting calories just got a little bit easier. Boston.com reported on Wednesday that, “Massachusetts public health officials have approved a regulation that requires most restaurant chains to prominently display the calorie counts on their menu offerings.”

Restaurant chains with 20 or more locations in the state must show calorie counts either on the menu or on menu boards. The new regulation will affect about 50 chains with more than 5,000 locations. Some restaurant chains like McDonald’s and Subway already have nutrition information on their packaged products. I’ll argue that you shouldn’t be eating at fast food joints if you’re trying to watch your calorie intake. But I guess every bit counts.

Food is fun
I also want to make a point that being obsessive about your calorie intake is not good either. Olive oil, for example, is very good for you but it would add a lot of calories to a dish. I believe chefs should be allowed to be creative. They already have enough paperwork to do, such as filling out health and safety forms, to get bogged down with calorie tracking.

The idea of nutritional information on menus is okay for branded products like Burger King, Pizza Hut or McDonald’s, where food is made to a formula. But for mom-and-pop eateries, you would need a registered dietician permanently on sight to create an accurate nutritional count on all the items served at the restaurant. And that costs money. Money that a lot of small businesses don’t have to spend.

Remember, eating healthy doesn’t have to mean taking all the fun out of food.

Here are some eateries that offer some low calorie grub:

Cafe Orchid, 1746 W. Addison, Chicago, IL

Maoz Vegetarian, 38 Union Square East, New York, NY

Singapore Garden, 1006 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA

Stone Hearth Pizza Company, 1782 Massachusetts, Cambridge, MA

2 Responses

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