Blaise Tapp: Calorie count on menus won't affect my choices

When packing for a holiday, style isn’t the first thing on my mind - I strive exclusively for maximum comfort with everything else coming a distant second.

By Jane Chippindale
Monday, 11th April 2022, 3:21 pm

Blaise Tapp writes: I’ve never been mistaken for a hipster or a member of any movement or sub group of humankind which might be considered remotely trendy, with use of that very 1980s’ word merely further proof that I’m anything but.

Forget your latest fashions, all I need in my suitcase are loose fitting trousers, preferably with a drawstring waist, and shirts that I can expand into during the course of the week because the hallmark of a good holiday is if I have to loosen my belt onto the next notch when I get back.

Next week I’ll be indulging in my favourite pastime of filling my face, at a variety of eateries and have absolutely no intention of studying the calorie count of whatever has taken my fancy.

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Calorie labelling on menus has been introduced. Photo: Adobe

Last week saw the introduction of new Government rules that mean larger restaurants and takeaways now have to display the calories of each dish on their menus and websites. The Department of Health and Social Care hopes it will help combat the nation’s obesity problem and enable people to make healthier choices.

The department reasons that it’s a natural extension of the requirement for calories and nutritional content to be displayed on all food packaging but it isn’t a universally popular move.

I don’t know about you, but when I go out for dinner, I don’t want to worry about how much exercise I’m going to have to do the following week to compensate for it, I just want to enjoy a rare night out.

Let’s face it, there aren’t many homes in the country where spending isn’t being reined in right now so paying for the privilege of a trained chef cooking you a meal is a real treat. Most people are sensible enough to realise that a stuffed crust pizza with double helpings of blue cheese is going to be more calorific than grilled chicken and rice but that’s the choice they have made.

We know that deep fried halloumi sticks aren’t as healthy as celery but you can eat salad at home.

The new rules will only apply to businesses with 250 or more employers, which will tend to be the type of places that dads like me take their families. You know the sort of places; where overly cheerful young staff in baseball caps attempt to smile you to death while explaining what they’ve run out of.

You visit these types of establishments because they are brash and fun and because nobody minds if your school age children have a hissy fit because you have confiscated their tablet ahead of the starter. You don’t go there because their cottage cheese is the best in the business.

Some in the hospitality industry, which is in the middle of a slow recovery from the pandemic, say that these new rules have come at a bad time because implementing them will cost money that many businesses don’t have.

It’s also worth remembering that some famous chains, including the best known burger business in the world, have been doing this for years and people still queue up at McDonald’s drive-thrus to sink their teeth into a Big Mac, which weighs in at 550 calories - without fries and the soft drink.

Then there are those who fear that listing calories on menus is potentially detrimental to people who suffer from eating disorders.

Yes, we do have an obesity problem in this country but there is limited evidence to suggest that this is the way to fix it.

Speaking as somebody who knows he needs to shift a stone or three, the only thing I’ll be looking at on the menu next week is whether I can have two or three courses.

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