Calories are now on menus – use them to make informed food choices!


What is the Healthy Menu Choices Act (HMCA, 2015)?

Making a healthy choice while eating out can be hard. To give you some information about the food available to you, you can now rely on the Healthy Menu Choices Act (2015), a new legislation in Ontario that forces major food chains to have the calories posted on menus. As of January 2017, all food outlets with 20 or more locations around the province need to post calories for all their regular food and drink items (including alcohol) that is served.  Food premises are places like restaurants, grocery stores or coffee shops where you can eat there or get food/drinks ready to eat at home. Use the calorie information now available to help you make an informed choice for you and your family, when eating out!

With the calorie information, they also need to include a statement with the average calories that adults, youth and children need in a day. This is to help you compare different meal options to your average daily needs in order to make an informed choice while eating out[KLB1] .  Check all the details at the Calories on menus – information page from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care for consumers.

If you own a food premise and want to know more about how the HMCA affects you check the Calories on menus - information page from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care for businesses.


More than just calories – how can I use this information to make sure my choices are healthy?


Knowing how many calories are in the food or drink that you are about to buy is one helpful way to make an informed choice. You can look at how many calories your lunch will have and compare to the average you need in a day.

“But aren’t the food options with less calories the healthiest ones? Why do I need to think about other nutrients?”

Calories are not the only thing to consider when choosing healthy food options. Choose the option that you think has the most good nutrients. Fox example:

Regular double burger sandwich

520 calories

Salad with crispy chicken (no dressing)

500 calories

Because the difference in calories is so small, we may feel tempted to choose the burger. But if you think about what other good things you can have from your food, the salad would be the better option, as it would give you the same energy but more important nutrients such as fibre, vitamin C and also fewer ingredients that, in excess, can harm us – salt, fat and refined sugars.

Healthier choices include those that are lower in salt, saturated/trans fat, and refined sugars. Here are some helpful tips to help you choose the healthiest options while eating out:

=          Choose whole grains (e.g. whole wheat bread vs. white bread)

=          Get more fruits & vegetables (an avocado may be high in calories, but it is very nutritious and a healthy choice!)

=          Meat alternatives (beans,legumes,lentils, tofu, quinoa)

=          To drink: Water or milk instead of pop

Healthy eating is important, but enjoying the food you are choosing to eat is too. Food does more than provide your body with energy. Make healthy choices more often but allow yourself to indulge once in a while in your favorite treat. We want to encourage you to have a balanced healthy lifestyle which includes healthy eating, physical activity, good sleep, and family time!

Click here for a few tips on how to eat healthy while eating out!