The recent decision that calorie counts should be added to restaurant menus has been fraught with controversy. On the one hand, the government believes this will allow people to make more informed choices about what they eat, and help tackle obesity in the UK. On the other, it could ruin the experience of eating out for those who have struggled with eating disorders or become obsessed with counting calories in the past.
The new rules mean that all restaurant chains with more than 250 staff must include calorie information on their printed menus and websites.
One person who was not happy about this was Sophie Bartlett, who tweeted about her experience of asking for a calorie-free menu when she visited Dishoom for a friend’s birthday.
‘I asked for a menu without calories but they didn’t have one, so one of the staff (Georgia) took a menu and scribbled out the calories for me’ she said.
Massive kudos to @Dishoom Manchester – I asked for a menu without calories but they didn’t have one so one of the staff (Georgia) took a menu and scribbled out all the calories for me 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 pic.twitter.com/hUybGg8JtA
— Sophie Bartlett (@_MissieBee) April 16, 2022
In response, Dishoom tweeted Sophie back, saying they would soon be introducing calorie-free menus for those who request them – a move also made by other major restaurants, and allowed within the government guidelines.
Speaking to the i, Sophie said ‘I’ve never had an eating disorder but I easily got sucked into calorie counting before…it was miserable’. Sophie added that she had plenty of friends and family members with eating disorders who had been ‘greatly affected’ by the new rules.
As well as Dishoom, other restaurants including Wagamama, Pho and The Ivy Group have said they will introduce calorie-free menus for those who require them. Pizza Express, meanwhile, has been offering a calorie-free menu since 22 March.
Restaurants under the Mitchells and Butlers company – such as Browns, Toby Carvery, Stonehouse Pizza & Carvery, Harvester, Miller & Carter, Vintage Inns, and Ember Inns – will all provide no-calorie menu options.
Eating disorder charity BEAT has published guidance on eating out since the new calorie count legislation has been introduced – you can read it here.