You may have noticed lately that there has not been a lot of new activity on the Savvy Diner blog. We’ve been busy around here focusing our attentions on refreshing the Savvy Diner website to reflect our new direction!
A brief recap, Toronto Public Health’s Savvy Diner campaign began in 2013 to raise awareness about the calorie and sodium content of restaurant meals and to advocate for menu labelling. To date, TPH’s Savvy Diner project has focussed on the following activities:
- Advocating for provincial legislation that requires calorie and sodium values on menus.
- Educating the public on how to eat healthy when eating out and the value of menu labelling.
- Encouraging the public to demonstrate their support for menu labelling.
- Conducting a pilot test with small independent restaurants to determine if menu labelling is feasible
We are now onto Phase 2 of the campaign which will aim to continue to support menu labelling and educate the public about eating healthily while dining out, but expand to provide tools, resources and support to restaurant operators.
Our vision is to encourage a Toronto restaurant environment where all patrons are able to select and consume food that is transparent in its nutritional value. Our goal is to educate and provide support to both restaurant operators and “Savvy Diners” to help them navigate their way through restaurants and other “away from home” eating environments.
Stay tuned for the new, revitalized Savvy Diner website in early 2016. Follow us on Facebook for updates!
After months of reviewing the recipes and speaking with the owners and chefs at C’est What?, the menu analysis is finally complete! After all that work, we gained a lot of insight into what goes into making the menu and the sources of the calories and sodium in each dish. So, what would be some Savvier choices?
Let’s start with the salads. The Mediterranean Salad looks like an amazing choice at 350 calories. Want to make that a meal? Adding 4oz of grilled chicken only adds 90 calories and 105 mg of sodium!
Bacon Wrapped shrimp comes in at only 200 calories! The bacon adds quite a lot of sodium, so we recommend getting something less salty for your entrée. The tzatziki and hummus along with the rest of the appetizers can be a big source of calories and sodium in your meal. So, we think they could be shared with a friend, or two.
The sandwiches are higher in calories, but don’t forget that they all come with fries, which are 600 calories. So, if you want to indulge in that Pulled Pork Tortilla, maybe think about whether you want to have the fries or enjoy a side salad instead – that will cut 430 calories. Another great option – enjoy the Tandoori Chicken Sandwich which comes with delicious coleslaw and mint peas for only 650 calories.
The nutritional profiles of restaurant entrees can vary quite a bit. There are lots of delicious choices that can be healthier. The Goat Roti is a hefty portion, so Savvier diners could take some of that home, or order it without the wrap and have it with rice. That little trick brings the calories down to just 600 while still getting a whopping 36g of protein, 7g of fibre, and 100% Daily Value of Vitamin A and C. Savvy diners can find all the nutrition information by request, so feel free to ask the server!
Don’t forget to look and ask for all the nutrition information next time you dine out. A few small changes in your selections can make a big difference, if you have the facts!
A big, heart-felt congratulations to the following Toronto restaurants: Bi Bim Bap, Taste of Beirut, Hearty Catering and C’est What. They all now have nutritional information available at the point of purchase for their customers!
Toronto Public Health commends them for responding to consumer desire for key nutrition information to be on menus. This evidence has most recently been supported in the September/October 2014 Canadian Public Health Association journal article titled “Restaurant menu labelling: Is it worth adding sodium to the label?”
We encourage our Savvy Diner supporters to go and check them out and share this news with your friends and families!
Over the past year, Toronto Public Health has been working with small, independent restaurants, such as these, to test the feasibility of posting calorie and sodium information on their menus.
The pilot project is winding down, and we’ve learned a lot about the challenges small restaurant operators in Toronto face to complete such an initiative. It takes tremendous effort and dedication to pursue menu labelling in this type of establishment.
It is great to see several Toronto restaurant operators who are champions for menu labelling in Toronto and are leading the way by providing nutritional information to their patrons. We hope many more will follow their example in 2015.
Today in Toronto, there’s no easy and fast way to know what you’re consuming when it comes to calories and sodium in restaurant food (except in the above restaurants!). With Canadians getting more of their daily meals at restaurants, Toronto Public Health believes that there has never been a more important time for menu labelling. Menu labelling ensures that all diners have easy access to key nutrition information to help them make the right food choice for themselves.
We will keep you posted on provincial menu labelling legislation that is currently being debated in the Ontario Parliament.
Six restaurants are nearly ready to make nutrition information available to their customers! These restaurants, located throughout the city, were part of Toronto Public Health’s Savvy Diner pilot menu labelling program for independent restaurants.
Join us in congratulating these restaurants on this achievement! Stop in and experience the advantage of having nutrition information at your fingertips when placing an order at the following establishments:
When eating there, take a minute to complete the customer survey to tell us what you think about the Savvy Diner program.
On a similar note, positive news was released by the provincial government related to Ontario’s plans for menu labelling legislation. Premier Wynne confirmed her government’s commitment to legislate the posting of calories on menus in large food and restaurant chains. We’ll keep you posted on developments on this front.
See more at www.savvydiner.ca or www.facebook.com/SavvyDiner
More and more evidence continues to emerge for focusing public health prevention efforts on the broader food environment – this is encouraging news for Savvy Diners! The latest research from University of Western Ontario reveals that proximity to fast food outlets is linked with BMI (body mass index). The BMI of Canadians living in areas with a high density of fast food outlets is higher than the average BMI of people who live in neighbourhoods with more full-service restaurants. These findings further strengthen the position of Savvy Diners advocating for changes in the dining out environment to support making healthier choices.
Governments mandating disclosure of the nutritional value of menu items served in restaurants is one tool that Savvy Diners can use to make sound and informed decisions on the foods they eat when dining out. In the near future, we expect to see menu labelling legislation re-introduced by the new Liberal majority government in Ontario. Kathleen Wynne’s government seems committed to making this happen. Savvy diners – stay posted!