A province-wide health program has put calories at face value – a tough pill to swallow for many Canadians.
Calories on the Menu aims to help Canadians make healthier food choices by including caloric boards next to most food items.
The initiative that rolled out in the new year targets select restaurants and public cafeterias across Ontario, including Tim Horton’s, Starbucks, Popeye’s Fried Chicken and Subway.
Mysum Chams, a Tim Horton’s employee, has been receiving inquiries regarding nutritional information from customers for the past seven years.
“There are a lot of customers that ask me… about certain products that I don’t even know the answers to,” she said. “A lot of people are eating out more during work and school and it’s becoming a typical diet. A lot of the calories in meals are underestimated.”
Chams says the program removes the guessing game of trying to estimate how many calories are in a product.
The nutritional makeover has especially hit student campuses in London, including Fanshawe College and Western University.
Ayesha Sehra, a third year Kinesiology student at Western, runs her own personal nutrition and training business. She takes to social media to guide people into learning about the dangers entering their bodies.
“Some people are genuinely unaware of what they’re eating and they maybe don’t know that a grilled chicken sandwich has maybe 1000 calories,” she said. “Some people just don’t want to see it, but I think it will influence their decision when they see that big number.”
Aya Algheriany, a registered dietitian in London, is thankful for the change because many of her patients had difficulties locating caloric information.
“I would tell them to go online and search up the calories… I think to them it might be more work and also if you look at literacy levels, it might not be as convenient for some people.”
Regardless of the provincial government’s health conscious efforts, Algheriany says there’s still a lot more work to be done when it comes to several health aspects such as.
- Reading labels
- Understanding macro-nutrients
- Exploring link between mental and physical health
- Increasing physical health awareness
The addition of caloric boards has helped put into perspective the nutritional information of many fast foods. Calories on the Menu is an important step toward encouraging successful health management and self-care.