Don't want to be so fat? Then eat fewer calories – it's that simple, says Masterchef's Gregg Wallace

Don't want to be so fat? Then eat fewer calories – it's that simple, says Masterchef's Gregg Wallace

IS the Government making a meal of things by ordering that menus display calorie counts?

Or will those that slate the anti-obesity tactic as a fat lot of good have to eat their words?

From next April restaurant chains – including cafes, pubs, and takeaways – which employ more than 250 people will have to show calories on menus.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill, said: “Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families.”

Critics have said it is the Government behaving like a nanny state. MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace and Sun foodie Amy Jones give their views . . .

GOOD IDEA, by Gregg Wallace

DON’T want to be so fat? Then eat fewer calories – it really is that simple.

But stepping into a restaurant, it can be hard to tell what dishes are going to pile on the pounds and which aren’t.

Sadly, in my work on shows like Eat Well For Less?, I know that people ARE misinformed about what’s on their plate.

Many would be shocked to discover their Friday fish and chips is close to 1,400 calories.

Pizza is another sneaky culprit. If you knew your American Hot contained over 1,000 calories, would you order a lighter option?

The fact is we don’t know how to make healthier choices until we are given the ­infor­mation.

It’s why this policy is a very good idea indeed.

This isn’t about shaming someone for tucking into a curry, it’s about informing them to make good choices.

I’ve changed my own lifestyle since a doctor warned me my cholesterol levels meant I was in danger of a heart attack.

I’ve lost four stone, but I never once even contemplated going on “a diet”. Instead, I’ve simply become much more aware of what I consume.

And does my new lifestyle stop me from ordering a takeaway or going out for a slap-up dinner? Absolutely not.

But if I’m going out for a big meal, I’ll take it easy in the days leading up to it.

This isn’t about shaming people, it’s about informing them to make good choices.

My website ShowMe.Fit is all about helping people make simple lifestyle changes to help them lose weight and get healthier.

Calorie information in restaurants will help ­people to do that too. In a lot of cases it’s easy to swap out a calorie-packed meal for another.

So in your local curry house, rather than a ghee-laden chicken tikka masala, order something from the tandoor.

But it’s important to state that this new policy is only mandatory for outlets that employ over 250 people. Nonna’s little neighbourhood trattoria is not at risk.

Perhaps this will make some of the worst offenders reassess the sugar and fat content on their menu.

As part of this plan, the Government needs to make sure people have access to a simple guide for how many calories we should be eating per day.

We shouldn’t be required to have a calculator with us when out for a meal. But anything that helps people make better choices gets top marks from me.

  • Gregg Wallace’s Big Weekend Away is on Channel 5 at 8pm tonight.

BAD IDEA, by Amy Jones

PICTURE the scene. You’re gazing into the eyes of your beloved in a candle-lit French restaurant.

The anticipation of a slap-up meal is mounting, the wine is flowing and then your waiter hands you a menu.

Next to each dish is a large, ugly number, warning you that if you do order that creme brulee you’ll ingest enough calories to feed a family of six.

We are grown-ups. We don’t need our menus plastered with calories like some depressing WeightWatchers bingo card.

I’d prefer the Government to concentrate on fixing the economy rather than warning me I’m in ­jeopardy of looking like Mr Blobby for a rare meal out.

It’s not so much nanny statism, rather Nanny trying to shovel quinoa down my throat when I want a lasagna.

For the vast majority of us, eating out is a treat to be savoured.

I know my favourite vindaloo isn’t what I need if I want to shed the pounds – to assume otherwise insults my intelligence.

But the concept of calorie counts on menus isn’t just patronising, for some it could be downright damaging.

Leading campaigners have warned that the idea risks setting back the recovery for people battling eating disorders.

Those who have dealt with anorexia or bulimia are often taught to disregard counting calories as they attempt to return to a more normal eating pattern.

It also cements the worrying mindset that calories are the enemy. They’re not, we need them to survive.

It is patronising, damaging and will affect our hospitality industry.

The truth is we should strive for a balanced diet. Eat healthily most of the time, treat yourself now and again and exercise.

The fact is, obesity starts at home. A study this week found children consume most sugar in meals eaten within our own four walls.

The culprits? Cereals, ready meals and pre-packaged desserts.

It’s not about labelling. The problem largely stems from the fact we’ve fallen out of love with cooking.

The sad situation is fuelled by the price disparity between healthy items in supermarkets and cheap, processed rubbish.

And ultimately, this means the policy is unlikely to target those it’s most aimed at.

But who will it really hit? Our struggling hospitality industry, which endured blow after blow during the pandemic.

So next time I’m at my local restaurant, I’ll wave away the menu and ask for my usual. With extra pommes frites, merci.

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