Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Carb-controlled menu for mainstream or chain restaurants

A specially-printed menu for people on carbohydrate-controlled diets
  [vote for,

People on carbohydrate-controlled diets such as the Atkins Nutritional Approach(tm) have many options when preparing their own food, but at restaurants are often at a disadvantage. Things like onion soup or certain sauces may contain anywhere from 1g to 10+g of carbohydrates per serving; the restaurant may know what's in their products, but the diner may not. Although it is possible for diners to request their meal be served a certain way, the extra communication involved becomes bothersome.

For relatively slight cost, restaurants could print up a menu of food selections which were suitable for carbohydrate-controlled diets; customers ordering from that menu would then have their food prepared so as to minimze carbohydrate content (meats, for example, would be served bare on a plate rather than on a bun, and only sauces low in carbohydrates would be applied). Certain foods could be expliclty stocked for low-carb diners (e.g. if the restarant normally serves sugar-cured ham, it could offer non-sugar-cured ham as well) but even if no new foodstuffs were stocked just having the menu would be extremely helpful.

For chains with thousands of restaurants, the cost to the chain of printing the extra menus would be extremely minimal but the value-added for the diners could be considerable. Especially with carb-controlled diets like Atkins' gaining rapidly in popularity, a restaurant which advertised itself as being friendly to such dieters could get a substantial boost over its competition.

supercat, Feb 03 2003

American Heart Association on high-protein diets http://216.185.112....46_Professional.pdf
"High-protein diets are not recommended because they restrict healthful foods that provide essential nutrients and do not provide the variety of foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs. Individuals who follow these diets are therefore at risk from compromised vitamin and mineral intake, as well as potential cardiac, renal, bone, and liver abnormalities overall." You still want to follow the Atkins diet? [kropotkin, Oct 04 2004]

Quackwatch on low-carb diets http://www.quackwat...atedTopics/lcd.html
Weight loss is due to a lowered calorie intake and nothing else. And if you eat lots of burgers you won't even lower your calorie intake. [kropotkin, Oct 04 2004]

Food and Diet http://www.foodandd...Files/fastfood.html
Find out what's in that fast food before you leave the house. We asked the restaurants to give us the skinny on their food so you don't have to. [hdlc, Oct 04 2004]

Atkins Nutritionals and TGI Fridays sign deal. http://www.usatoday...12-04-fridays_x.htm
from 'USA Today'. [st3f, Oct 04 2004]


       I have frequently seen "special diet" sections on restaurant menus (often entitled "The lighter side" or somesuch) but I've never seen one tailored for people on carbohydrate controlled diets. I have Atkins' book and try to follow his advice, but it's bothersome to always have to ask about "hidden sugars" and it's annoying getting stung when I fail to do so on something that I wouldn't expect to have any.   

       I am aware that the major fast-food chains post nutritional information for their ready-made food items, but I've not before seen them show the meat-less-bun figure (thanks for the In-N-Out link). I've also generally not seen such information offered for sit down restaurant chains (e.g. Cracker Barrel, Bennigan's, TGI Fridays, etc.)
supercat, Feb 03 2003

       reensure: I was suggesting a separate menu, available upon request (many restaurants already have some on-request menus, in either Spanish, braille, or picture format). The fact that food is low-calorie is NOT sufficient, since the body treats different sources of calories differently.   

       Some types of food are obviously very high in carbohydrate (pasta, e.g.) while some are obviously very low (a hamburger with nothing on it and no bun). Many other foods, however, can be ambiguous. Something which is made with low-fat processed cheese may have fewer calories than a similar item made with full-fat cheese, but have much more carbohydrate. Short of subjecting one's waiter to the Spanish Inquisition, how is a dieter supposed to evaluate such foods?   

       Further, different restaurants do different degrees of pre-preparation. Suppose a menu lists a breaded chicken parmesan dish on its menu, served with pasta. At some restaurants, it would be possible to have the chicken served unbreaded, with minimal-carb toppings, and with a side of green beans. At other restaurants, the chicken is breaded even before it's ordered, and the tomato sauce has a significant amount of added starch or sugar. Without subjecting the waiter to the Spanish Inquisition, how should a diner know what's available?   

       In part, the goal of the carb-controlled menu is to reduce complexity on the main menu. Many places will allow certain substitutions on some of their menu options, but listing all of them would clutter the menu excessively. Having a separate carb-controlled menu would allow the restaurant to include such substitutions (e.g. low-carb side items in place of french fries) without cluttering up the main menu.   

       BTW, regarding price, why should letting controlled-carb diners know all the options available to them make dining more expensive? Especially in chains which have thousands of restaurants, the layout and printing costs for extra menus would be slight. If having the special menu available meant that more of the food selections were 'safely' available to controlled-carb diners, the increased variety of food options could easily increase business by more than enough to offset those printing/layout costs.
supercat, Feb 03 2003

       While I'm all in favour of companies revealing hidden sugar in foods, it would be irresponsible of companies to encourage fad high-protein low-carbohydrate diets, which have no proven value and may cause health problems. The AMA Council on Foods and Nutrition, The American Heart Association and American Kidney Association have spoken out about the risks of these diets (particularly from high saturated fat consumption) and the American Dietetic Association and others say that eliminating carbohydrates will not lead to weight loss unless overall calorie intake is reduced.   

       Edit: um, yeah, what jutta said.
kropotkin, Feb 03 2003

       The AMA, huh? Weren't they the onles in the 1950's telling us all to eat red meat five times a day, washed down with a gallon of whole milk?
snarfyguy, Feb 03 2003

       Atkins has been recommending his minimal-carbohydrate diets for 30 years. If such diets cause long-term health problems, they certainly should have appeared in that time. While I've certainly heard plenty of naysayers saying such diets are unhealthy and promote high levels of bad cholesterol and such, the actual scientific studies that have been done seem to suggest that they actually reduce high blood pressure and improve the cholesterol ratio.   

       An important point to consider, btw, is that many meat animals are fed largely carbohydrate diets. Why would farmers give such food to their livestock if not to promote weight gain?   

       Finally, it is possible for the body to eliminate ketones (fats) through excretion. According to Atkins and the studies he cites, a moderate-fat low-carbohydrate diet will cause much more fat to be lost in this way than will a low-fat high-carbohydrate diet.
supercat, Feb 03 2003

       jutta: regarding the liability issue, anything a restaurant does is apt to be a toss-up. If, however, the low-carbohydrate menu provides accurate "net carbs" information and does not contain food which is substantially worse than the normal menu, I can't see that its situation would be any worse with the low-carb menu than without if they provided a conspicuous disclaimer, e.g. "The meals offered in this menu are prepared to have minimal levels of net carbohydrates as defined in Atkins' _New DIet Revolution_. Bob's Restaurant does not endorse low-carbohydrate diets, but provides this information for people who--for whatever reason--choose to follow them."   

       Also, while your point about complexity is well-taken, I'd rather put up with a somewhat complex "controlled-carbs" menu [while other diners just use their ordinary menu] than have to question the waiter about whether the cajun-style catfish has any added sugar or starch (especially since the cook might not know if he just sprinkles some powder from the bin marked "cajun spice" whose contents were mixed by the owner who's enjoying a day off).
supercat, Feb 03 2003

       I think that the real answer is to shoot everyone in the medical establishment that persists in saying “fat makes fat”, when all us smart people know that it is really sugar that makes fat. Pluterday is thin as a pole, because she avoids all sugars, eating only fat and protein.
...and tons of fiber.
pluterday, Feb 03 2003

       BTW, I wonder if at some time in mankind's ancestry it would have been normal for people to eat carbohydrates in the fall (harvest) season, little but carbs in the winter, and mostly fat and protein in the spring/summer? If so, it would make sense that in the fall one would want to build up fat reserves, in the winter one would want to keep them, and in the summer one would want to lose them (figuring that ample food would be available in the summer, rendering the reserves unnecessary; and further figuring that fat in the summertime would interfere with the ability to catch game).
supercat, Feb 03 2003

       supercat: studies show that the benefits of the Atkins diet and other low carb/high protein diets are due simply to the fact that people on those diets consume less calories and hence lose weight.   

       As you should have realised, farm animals are fed carbohydrates rather than proteins and fats because they are naturally vegetarians and in the wild eat a high-carbohydrate diet that is low in proteins and fats. Cows do not eat meat.   

       Eating a lot of carbohydrates will make you fat, but so will eating a lot of fats. It is the number of calories that matters, and gram for gram fat contains many more calories.
kropotkin, Feb 04 2003

       //The AMA, huh? Weren't they the onles in the 1950's telling us all to eat red meat five times a day, washed down with a gallon of whole milk?//   

       //Atkins has been recommending his minimal-carbohydrate diets for 30 years.//   

       Um, how about 'eat appropriately'. While a high carb diet is de rigeur for those with active days (try being a farm labourer on an Atkins diet) it is inappropriate for those with sedentary office jobs.   

       Since we have an increasing number of people that have an increasing number of allergies and increasingly specific life diets, how about the following. An XML menu is served up by the restaurant and filtered by your PDA, displaying only those things that you allow yourself to eat. The restaurant simply lists ingredients and quantities (and sources of foods for those making a political statement) and you get a quick run-down of what you feel able to eat on moral and health grounds.
st3f, Feb 04 2003

       //studies show that the benefits of the Atkins diet and other low carb/high protein diets are due simply to the fact that people on those diets consume less calories and hence lose weight.//   

       If I were consuming less calories and yet feeling less hungry than on other diets, that in and of itself would be a 'win'. I'm pretty sure caloric consumption has gone up, however.
supercat, Feb 04 2003

       Can't be bothered to reread the annos - so if anyone said this already, sorry.   

       This is baked at more and more places now. Ruby Tuesday's in the US has one, and many of the fast food joints (like Subway) have it as well.
waugsqueke, Jan 13 2004

       If I were to post this idea today, it might rightly be regarded as 'somewhat baked', insofar as Subway and Burger King are both aggressively marketing to low-carb dieters.   

       There are, however, a couple things to note:   

       -1- The idea was posted 11 months ago before such marketing became fashionable.   

       -2- My idea was not just for restaurants to produce new foodstuffs, but also to make better information available to customers about what choices and substitutions were available and suitable (e.g. if one entry comes with green beans, but another one comes with fries, it would be useful for low-carb dieters to know whether green beans could be substituted for fries etc.)
supercat, Jan 14 2004

       Curses, [jutta] you're making me crave In-and-Out Burger again ... *sigh*
Letsbuildafort, Jan 14 2004

       I am controlling excess carbs by not eating wheat or potatoes. The problem is that 95% of the menu is foods with wheat or potatoes. Sometimes 100% so I go to the next cafe and after 5th cafe I might find something to eat which is probably chicken salad. In the process of looking that cafe with something to eat I often end up walking half a kilometre and that is stealthy excercise.
Pellepeloton, Oct 13 2006


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