The Problem With Calorie Counts on Menus

I haven’t been to the movies in a while, so I was excited when my friend suggested that we head to a nearby theater last weekend. We left the house intending to watch either Hidden Figures or La La Land and of course, with our luck, we ended up in Split. To my pleasant surprise, it was a pretty good movie, disturbing as it may have been.

It had been a while since lunch, and breakfast was too early in the morning to remember, so I definitely started to feel it as I was waiting to buy my ticket. I’ve been getting severe stomach pains lately if I don’t eat for over 5-6 hours and wanted to make sure I avoided that feeling at all costs, especially while I was away from home.

Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge, for myself, that I just spent a mini paragraph justifying why I ate. I have faith that I will, one day, get to a point where I can say “I ate a snack at the movies” and that’s it. No “this is why” or “but I walked it off later.”

Anyway.

I don’t know who pointed it out first, but my friend and I both ended up noting that the theater’s snack menu had calories listed next to each item. She left to use the restroom and I just kind of stood there, unmoving, staring at the menu for a while. Calorie counts still throw me off and cause me to second guess my choices. As soon as I started reading through the options, I felt my mind involuntarily trying to convince itself that I could wait another two and a half hours before eating. Turns out, I’ve gotten really quick at mental math.

Deep down (my stomach to be exact), I knew I couldn’t wait. So, I took the plunge and ordered. I have spent the past few days trying to be proud of myself for defying my ED in this way, even if it was uncomfortable and frustrating.

The problem with calorie counts on menus is that it can only go wrong. Really, there are two outcomes. Either a person is deterred from eating what they want and what their body may have needed at that time, or they eat it and feel guilt soon after- maybe even as soon as the first bite.

It’s not fair for me to generalize, and for those who have never or no longer struggle with food issues, menu calories allow quick access to that information (note: most restaurants have the information available on their websites, but I understand that it’s not always an option to get online before a meal). However, it’s important to keep in mind that the number of calories does not give any information regarding nutrition. My breakfast could have just 250 calories, but very little protein to keep me full longer into the day. I could have an 800 calorie breakfast that is packed with the nutrients that my body needs to stay healthy and energized.

Low calorie does not guarantee nutrition. Low calorie does not guarantee health. Low calorie most certainly does not guarantee happiness.

Long story short, I got the nachos.

2 thoughts on “The Problem With Calorie Counts on Menus

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