(WAFF) - The literal understanding of what you're eating is one thing. The nutritional understanding is totally different.
You ask many people what the nutritional facts of their meal is and chances are they don't know. The Food and Drug Administration is working to change that. This week, they issued a mandate requiring all chain restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, and even vending machines to add calorie counts to the menu.
Hollie Beaver is a mother of two. She said her family eats out about twice ago, but in cutting back and focusing on a more healthy diet she's starting to pay more attention to what they're eating.
"I do always look at the calorie count on the menu if it's there. It has really opened my eyes a lot to what I'm eating, what my kids are eating," Beaver said.
Health experts say it's not often eating out is so bad in moderation, it's that we consume so much at one time.
A Center for Science in the Public Interest report finds your favorite pasta dish can be loaded with more than 2,300 calories. A slice of chocolate cake weighs in at more than 1,700 calories, and a loaded cheese omelet and a side of buttermilk pancakes starts your day off with just under 2,000 calories.
The FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, wrote in a blog post that showing these stark numbers actually leads consumers to healthier options. Read that blog post here.
Per restaurant, consumers order 30 to 50 calories fewer than they would otherwise.
"It is concerning as a mom, and so I do try to stay on top of it and sometimes it gets confusing," Beaver said.
Health experts say adding these numbers should eliminate confusion. They say it's all about accountability and independence.
"It's a team effort to curb the rise in obesity rate since they are so vast, especially here in the South and in Alabama particularly. Anytime we can get help educating the public to kind of take ownership of their own health is kind of important," said dietitian Rebekah Dewitt with Nutrition LLC.
Under this new mandate, restaurants will also have to provide additional nutritional information like sodium and fat levels.
The CDC states the average person should consumer under 500 calories per meal.
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