Dear chain restaurants,
Within the last year, I have noticed that chain restaurants like Olive Garden and Red Robin now include the calorie count on their menus. While I think this was done to help people eat better and understand how many calories they are consuming in a meal, there are so many reasons this should not be done.
I have a history of anorexia nervosa. While I am in "remission" as I like to call it, I never consider myself a recovered anorexic because every day is a struggle. For someone with an eating disorder, no matter the type, calorie counts on a menu could be highly trigger-some.
Sometimes when I go out to eat, if I see the calorie counter, I don't want to eat at all! Sometimes I will want to get a certain item, maybe I was even craving that item, I will struggle to get it once I see how many calories the food item has.
For people with eating disorders, these calorie counters can be highly detrimental to our health. Someone who has just begun recovering could relapse due to the stress of knowing how many calories they are consuming. Even my family and friends who have not had eating disorders have told me that the calorie counts influence their decision on what to eat.
Some people will tell me that the calorie counts on menus do more good than harm. They claim that there are so few people with eating disorders (they're not wrong) that the majority of people will benefit from the calorie counts on menus! But that's just plain false.
There are plenty of people out there who don't even know what a calorie is, what it means, or how many calories someone should have in a day. In fact, most people are highly uninformed about the daily calorie goal!
I do have some suggestions on how to make eating out safer and healthier for everyone. Make sure calorie count menus are available for all customers who request them. Keep a calorie count menu online for people to peruse if they choose. Dedicate a section of the menu to lower calorie, lower sodium, and lower sugar foods for those dieting or with restricted diets. Do not charge extra when somebody wants to substitute french fries for a salad.
These suggestions are much safer for people with histories of eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, and society in general. Instead of shaming people for wanting to eat a high-calorie meal, the restaurant should embrace it. We shouldn't be ashamed to eat food because of the calories in that food!
I know you are trying to help keep people healthy, but by doing this you are actually making some people sick. People don't often eat out to eat healthily, they eat out to enjoy themselves, food, and good company. Make it a little easier on them by offering calorie count menus but not having them available at every table, for anyone to see.