We need to talk about calories on menus

Apr 07, 2022

On Wednesday the 6th April the government introduced calorie labelling to restaurant menus to try and curb the rising obesity epidemic.

Calories are units of energy from food. Calorie counting doesn’t take into account a person’s motivation for why they may be carrying out this behaviour, their nutritional needs, nor the complex way in which food is broken down and absorbed in the body. Evidence therefore indicates that purely reducing calorie intake is not sufficient to manage and reverse obesity and in fact, due to the impact of metabolic change, can make weight unstable.

Calorie counting in obesity also does not maintain nutritional safety, it is time consuming, is difficult to maintain and doesn’t foster long-term changes in eating habits.

Calorie counting for a person who has an eating disorder, especially anorexia nervosa, is particularly harmful since it leads to escalating an already restricted and over monitored eating pattern, increased anxiety, an obsessive focus on ‘eating by numbers’ and difficulties in recovery.

If you have an eating disorder – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, please see a health/mental health professional and be supported in ensuring you have the correct amount of nutrition required to be healthy alongside psychological support.

Trying to achieve happiness through a number (calories, weight, clothes size) does not reflect you or your personality. Aiming to achieve happiness through learning to build self-worth and value on the other hand, works.