Piranha Burger Indeed: Why Calorie Counts on Menus Matter

bj's pranha burgerOne of the things I most enjoy about going on a business trip or visiting family in California is that by law all restaurant menus must include calorie counts for everything served. Now this might not seem like a big deal but as someone who likes to know what I’m eating and how I’m balancing my caloric intake, it’s super helpful.

Tip: I’m down 35 pounds from my Jan 1, 2013 weight and don’t ever plan on being close to that heavy again.

I’m also a fan of BJ’s restaurant chain and find the food there delicious and the atmosphere fun for taking my kids out for a meal, meeting friends, family or even an occasional dinner date.

In Colorado, we don’t get calorie counts, so in Colorado I might have looked at the Piranha Cheeseburger shown above and contemplated getting it as a splurge. I mean, it looks delicious, right?

Check it out on the California version of their menu that includes calorie counts and you’ll find out the bad, no, shocking caloric news:

bj's brewhouse menu excerpt: Knife and Fork Sandwiches

Can you see the calorie count? 2160-2280. For a burger.

Now keep in mind that the Department of Health recommends [PDF link] that a male, moderately active, in my age group needs no more than 2400 calories a day in overall foods and beverages. That’s per day and I personally think that’s high. I aim for closer to 1800 calories, day, truth be told. That delicious Piranha Pale Ale Chili Cheeseburger would blow that out of the water completely.

Now don’t read this as me being critical of BJ’s for having this on the menu. Quite the opposite: If someone wants to eat it, that’s fine with me. The issue is more that without the knowledge of calories associated with individual menu items, how can we make smart eating decisions and know, for example, that if we did want to splurge on the Piranha Burger, that we’d need to then hit the gym to compensate?

What I’d like to see is the California law that requires calorie counts be adopted nationally. It might not change what you choose to eat at a restaurant, but it would sure give you the chance to be more aware of how it added up and its impact on your waistline and overall health.

But what do you think? Are you pro-calorie count inclusion or against it?

One comment on “Piranha Burger Indeed: Why Calorie Counts on Menus Matter

  1. Calorie count inclusion is a good thing. It helps me to decide what packaged items to buy at the grocery store as I try to avoid high salt and fat items.

    The GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) topic is front and center here in Washington state as it is up for vote this coming Tuesday. The issue is whether to put a label on food items that have GMO’s. For health advocates, it seems like a “no-brainer”, but Dow Chemical, Dupont, Bayer, Pepsi, Coke, General Mills, Kellogg… etc. are contributing large sums of advertising money to get the mandate voted down. They, collectively have donated the most in the history of any Washington state’s ballot votes.

    What do you think of GMO’s? BTW, The bill would NOT require restaurants to put a GMO label out next to the calorie content.

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