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How to cope with calories on menus

Restaurants in the US, UK and some other countries are required by law to have calorie information on menus. This can make life difficult if you are recovering from an eating disorder and enjoying a night out with friends. Here are some tips for how to cope with this.

🧑‍🍳 Go to independent restaurants and cafes

It’s always good to support your local and family-owned restaurants and cafes and this is also a great way to avoid being triggered by calorie information. Independent and smaller chain restaurants don’t have to put calories on menus (if they have less than 20 branches in the US or less than 250 employees in the UK).

📒Ask for a menu without calories

Most restaurants keep versions of the menu without the calories on them, but you have to specifically ask for them. To make it less awkward and if you are the one booking the table you could try making this request at the time of booking.

🗣️ Ask someone to read the menu to you

If you are with someone who knows your struggle with calories, ask them to read the menu to you. If this is one of the first times you have been able to eat out in a while, think about going with people you trust will be understanding and you can rely on not to talk about the calories on the menu as they are making their choices.

💃Remember why you are having a night out

Try to focus on the reasons you are out with other people. Enjoy their company and the conversation. Perhaps you can give yourself a limited time to look at the menu and make a decision.

🧠 Remember why you are in recovery

If you have set yourself some long term goals for why you want to recover, it can help to keep these in your mind. Some people write out the pros and cons of their eating disorder, how it is affecting them today and how it might affect them in the long term if they don’t stay on the road to recovery. This can be a great motivator, giving you the strength to overcome this challenge. For others, it can help to remind yourself of happier times before your eating disorder and perhaps even take some photos with you or an object that brings back good memories

❤️ Be kind to yourself

Having calories on menus is a way of calorie-shaming people and of course if you are struggling with disordered eating you are going to be particularly vulnerable to this. It is understandable that it could make you anxious. Maybe you won’t really cope the first time or you are not yet up to this challenge and that’s fine. Recovery can take time.

🦩Do you have any other tips you'd like to share? Let us know!


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