How Menu Labeling Could Change Eating Out for Your Family

by Together Counts Partner | May 14, 2015 at 9:58 am | comments

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Time is a precious resource, and lack of it can often lead families to skip wholesome meals shared at the dinner table. Restaurants are a natural pick for supporting busy schedules, and still offer the opportunity to enjoy some special time together without having to fight about who does the dishes! And as a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, we are big advocates for families spending time together.

What you may have missed in the blur of drop offs, pickups, meetings and more is that restaurants are changing. Chances are they’ll still have your go-to entrée, but alongside that entrée will now be its calorie count. That’s right, all types of restaurants, as well as delivery establishments, convenience stores, movie theaters, bakeries, cafeterias, and food vendors such as cookie shops and vending machines with 20 or more locations will be subject to the new menu-labeling law and will have to provide very specific nutrition information for you and your family.

How will this change eating out for you and your family? Get ready to start seeing some big changes to the menu from calories of each menu item (some may surprise you!) to new lower-calorie sections and selections and revamped kids’ menu choices filled with healthful ingredients. You may have already noticed some of these changes sweeping the country as families like yours vote with their wallets and forks for more healthful menu choices.

The three biggest requirements of the new menu labeling regulations that you and your family will notice in restaurants over the coming months are:

  1. Calories will be printed on menus and menu boards for standard menu items. For salad bars, buffets, self-serve foods and beverages, and display-type foods, the calories per food or per serving will be displayed on a sign next to each item offered.
  2. Additional nutrition information will be available upon request, either on the menu or via a counter card, sign, poster, handout, loose-leaf binder, booklet, or electronic device such as a computer or kiosk.
  3. Restaurants will post a statement with the recommended daily caloric intake (a “2000 calorie” statement you often see on nutrition information labels).

Many restaurants already provide comprehensive nutrition information as well as Healthy Dining and Kids LiveWell menu choices to make eating out as a busy family easy! Find the best menu choices near you here.

Healthy Dining provides Americans with the digital tools and resources necessary to find the best restaurant choices for their dietary goals and healthy lifestyles. President and founder Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, launched Healthy Dining in San Diego, CA, in 1991 by combining the brainpower and creativity of chefs, restaurateurs, health experts, registered dietitians and communication strategists. Now, in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association and scores of partner organizations, the Healthy Dining Program has grown to become the most powerful restaurant industry nutrition initiative in the nation. Healthy Dining’s signature website,, enables millions of nutrition-conscious restaurant diners, as well as those dealing with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other nutrition-related conditions, to easily find dietitian-recommended Healthy Dining and Kids LiveWell choices served at more than 60,000 restaurant locations. For more information please visit

For more healthy dining tips, take a look at these other Together Counts resources.