Fast food nutrition information/nutrition calculators

I have been baffled lately at the restaurant industry’s strong objections to being required to give nutritional information for their meals in the post-Supersize Me world. I do realize that, for the most part, the restaurant industry places much more value in profits than in providing healthy meals. But certainly restaurants would want to follow McDonalds lead and provide easy access to nutritional information as a way to get some easy positive PR.

That doesn’t seem to be the case, as most restaurants either don’t make their nutritional information easy to find, or don’t make it available at all. For example, try getting nutritional information directly from Outback Steakhouse. Don’t even bother trying from Claim Jumper. They won’t provide info for most of their menu. One need not imagine how unhealthy their food must be for these restaurants to actively refuse to provide nutritional information.

On the other hand, there are some restaurants that go out of their way to provide their customers with excellent nutritional information. McDonalds has to be the hands-down best at this in the generic fast-food market. I have not seen any other chain that actually prints nutritional info on the packaging of each individual item. I still refuse to eat at McDonalds any longer, especially after seeing Supersize Me. But I have to applaud their efforts in this area.

Taking a step up to premiere fast-food places, Tokyo Joes does a great job of providing a list of nutritional information for all menu items on their website. That is fantastic; I love Tokyo Joes. And their food is low enough in calories/Points that I can eat their frequently. QDoba, however, goes one step above and beyond. QDoba has a nutritional calculator on their website. It’s fun to use, as a person can customize their order exactly to their liking, and then see just how good/bad their choice was. Unfortunately, pretty much everything I like at QDoba is quite Points expensive (anywhere from 12 Points for a burrito to 27 Points for steak nachos), so I tend only to eat there once or twice a month.

For family restaurants, anyone on Weight Watchers knows that Applebees is amazing nice to us. Applebees has a WeightWatchers section on their menu, with quite a few dishes and a couple of appetizers that are both semi-low in Points, and (more importantly) have the Points and nutritional information listed. Red Robin shows them up, however, by having an ultra-cool Customizer on their website. The Customizer allows you to interactively and visually customize your meal, and then view nutritional information. It’s basically an information-packed toy! And it is how I found out that a Grilled Salmon Burger without sauce and a side of grilled veggies is only 10 points!

My personal philosophy: When I am going to eat out, I’ll choose restaurants that make their nutritional information available and easy to find. I simply will not do business anymore with a restaurant chain that feels that they have to hide their info from their customers.

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