Have you heard the news about Panera? How about Chipotle? It has been in the news a lot recently that these chains are making dramatic changes to their menus. So, what are the changes and will they make for more healthy eating?
Panera Drops Artificial Ingredients
Panera has decided to drop all artificial ingredients from its menu. This list of 150 ingredients is called the No-No List. This list includes artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and flavors, and these ingredients will all be removed by the end of 2016.
Even though the debate is still ongoing as to whether these ingredients can cause harm to consumers, Panera decided to not take the risk. It was reported that reconfiguring the salad dressing to meet the standards was the toughest menu item change. As of now there are no plans to increase the cost of the menu items to offset these changes.
Chipotle Gets Away from GMOs
Chipotle has also decided to clean up its menu recently. The chain announced that it would be serving only food that is free of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. In 2013 Chipotle was the first restaurant to show which menu items contained GMOs, and now it is the first chain restaurant to remove them. As with artificial ingredients, GMOs have not been found to be harmful to humans, but environmental working groups are concerned about the effect they might have on the food chain and environment.
Are These Changes Better for You?
It is great that these companies are making an effort to provide safe food choices; however, these changes do not mean that the food is necessarily better for you. Most calorie contents won’t be affected by these changes; and in foods where artificial sweeteners are removed the calories may actually increase.
So, if you are watching calories or wanting to lose weight, don’t be fooled into thinking the giant blueberry muffin will be the best option to help you get to your goal. That will still have 460 calories and 18 grams of fat! With any change in a nutrition announcement, the rule of thumb is not more is better. The goal is to stick to the basics. Incorporate as many fresh and unprocessed foods as possible into your diet. This includes reaching for 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day!
Be on the lookout for more companies to make similar announcements soon. Kraft has decided to remove artificial coloring from its Mac & Cheese, and Pepsi is removing aspartame from its diet drinks. Each announcement can be a positive for consumers, as long as they remember to get in a balanced and fresh diet the majority of the time.
This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.