On May 5, 2017, new federal regulations finalized three years ago will go into effect that require chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets to post calorie counts on their menus, as well as on food items sold in vending machines and snack bars. Before that happens, lawmakers in the Senate have introduced a bill to make a few revisions. What would those revisions mean for consumers faced with making mealtime decisions?
One change the bill makes to the original law would allow pizza chains and “similar retail food establishments where the majority of orders are placed by customers who are off-premises at the time such order is placed” (in other words: restaurants that are primarily delivery to pick-up) to post their nutritional information solely online, and not at the actual restaurant. So even if a restaurant has 49.9% of its orders placed on the premises, it would be exempt from posting calorie counts on menus under this provision.
The pending legislation would also not require the online menu be visible when you place an order, whether on an app or through social media. Thus, a restaurant could bury this info somewhere on the eatery’s site.
Another proposed tweak to the law would also benefit pizza chains — as well as any restaurants selling items as smaller parts of a whole. The bill would remove a section requiring restaurants to display the number of calories contained in the standard menu item, as “usually prepared and offered for sale,” and replace it with language that would allow a business to list the calories for say, half a muffin, or one slice of pizza.
Consumer advocates, including our colleagues at Consumers Union, as well as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and groups like the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association, came out against the proposed amendments in an open letter today [PDF].
First of all, not having a standardized method of posting calories counts could be confusing as well as deceptive, advocates say.
“Without standardization, people will have more difficulty understanding and using the nutrition information for menu items,” the letter reads. “Posting the total calories per menu item enables consumers to more easily compare different types of food items, such as nachos, chicken wings, or pizza, and leaves it up to the individual – not the restaurant – to determine how many people will share the item. It would be deceptive to label muffins, entrees, desserts, and most menu items as multiple servings, since items are most often consumed by one person.”
As for the revision that would allow pizza chains and others with a robust takeout and delivery business to only post calorie counts online, the groups believe that these establishments”should post calories on their menu boards just like other chain restaurants, as Congress intended,” pointing out that while some consumers use online menus, “others use paper menus at home or menus and menu boards in a restaurant.
“All menus should list calorie so consumers can see the information when and where they are deciding what to order,” the letter reads.
The groups say in a statement that it doesn’t make sense to weaken a policy that “would allow people to make their own, informed choices about how many calories to eat at a time when obesity rates are at a record high.”
Was this helpful? We’re a non-profit! You can get more stories like this in our twice weekly ad-free newsletter! Click here to sign up.
I have been working for years on how to optimize my sleeping pattern to be able to wake up well-rested in the morning. Through a 6-months sleep tracking experiment carried out with the Pebble Time sensor and the Android Sleep app, I increased my sleep quality significantly. Check out what I learnt from it!
For example, for years I was frustrated by the quality of my sleep. One day, I would wake up refreshed after just 6 hours of sleep, but another I spent fatigued, even after getting the usually recommended 8 hours of shuteye. Given how important proper sleep is to brainpower, health and overall well-being, I wanted to optimize how I spent my nights.
I have tried many sensors for measuring sleep quality from Fitbit One and Surge to Viatom Checkme and Withings Pulse, but the ultimate solution turned out to be the Pebble Time sensor paired with the Android for Sleep app. My goal was to eliminate luck from sleep quality and have a list in mind about the potential mistakes I can make to ruin it as well as the things that will improve it on purpose.
Pebble Time & Android Sleep App = Unbeatable pair for sleep tracking
I am quite a fan of the “Pebble Time – Android Sleep App” duo, which has a very simple reason: the sensor is comfortable to use and the app is very clever. The tracker, developed by Pebble in collaboration with researchers at Stanford University, measures your sleep, when you go to bed, displays sleep, deep-sleep, and the times when you fall asleep and wakes up. Pebble is small, easy-to-use and very useful. It has hundreds of other different applications as well. Late November 2016, Fitbit has acquired Pebble, and I was sorry to hear it will stop developing the product. But the device is still available via retail.
Discover whether you are a night owl or whether you are snoring
The Android Sleep App has a long history among its peers: it was launched in 2010 and the app was downloaded by more than 14 million users ever since. It can pair with your sleep tracker and its most important feature is that it wakes you up truly at the best possible time so you feel rested instead of being groggy. The app can wake you with nature sounds, soothing music, captcha or puzzle alarms. It also helps you track your sleep, deep-sleep and warns you if you are running on a sleep deficit.
Moreover, the app also pays attention to the sound in the room while you are sleeping to catch you snoring, record you talking in your sleep, or help you diagnose sleep illnesses. You could get to know many novelties about yourself, if you use a sleep tracker. Petr Nalenka, who works in the Urbandroid team at Android for Sleep confirmed that. He told me, some people are surprised they are heavy snorers, which they did not know before using the app. Moreover, others are even more surprised when they discover they suffer from some severe respiratory issues such as sleep apnoe.
Sleep as Android recently added some mind-blowing new features to its app, too. Based on its recommendations, you can adjust for inter-timezone travel ahead in order to prevent jet lag. Moreover, you can discover whether you are a night owl or a lark.
Researchers at Sleep as Android found that people are born with a certain chronotype. Everyone is on a spectrum from owl (someone who stays up late and prefers to get up later in the morning, or even in the afternoon) to lark (someone who stays up pretty early, but goes to bed with the sunset). It is very useful to know this information, as if you are lucky you might be able to adjust your work schedule according to it. I know about myself that I’m a lark and thus I get up every day very early as I know my productive hours are in the morning. Which one are you?
The sleep tracking experiment
So, on a sunny June afternoon I decided to launch the 6-months sleep tracking marathon for gaining as much data out of my sleeping habits as possible in order to have a balanced and refreshing sleep experience every night. For doing so, I repeated the same ritual for the next 182 days – and I still do.
When I go to bed, I put on the Pebble Time tracker and launch the Sleep as Android app. On the launch screen, I click on the “ideal” button to see what would be the best time for me to wake up tomorrow. Then I decide how much flexibility I grant the app in terms of time (I usually give it plus or minus 10 minutes). At the end of the ritual I pair Sleep as Android with the sensor with only one click. With that work done, I fall asleep.
In the morning, Pebble vibrates gently when it thinks this is the best time to wake me up and I have to solve 4 math challenges in order to stop the app. Otherwise, it keeps on snoozing: it buzzes and plays the chosen music.
What did I learn from the experiment and the data?
Using an app (no matter how good that is) without a sensor for tracking sleep is difficult. The sleep tracking apps on your smartphone are simply not accurate enough to provide you with appropriate data.
The sensor will not change the quality of your sleep at once and by itself only. It is really not a magic wand, but it will provide you with data based on which you can change it.
My main finding was that it is possible to sleep only as much as you need (no more, no less). But only by using technology!
When I couldn’t wake up easily before, it was because I woke myself up at the wrong time. You could wake up more easily too.
My most positive takeaway: I have never been more confident about controlling my sleep.
Uses for: Better Nights Sleep, Mild cases of Depression and Anxiety, Natural Antiseptic and Headache relief Known for its heavenly scented aroma, Lavender has many other uses other then providing us with a wonderful fragrance. Commonly used during ancient times of Greece and Rome, lavender was used as an disinfectant and antiseptic. Making use of soap and bath oils…