Calories count, but do we need to count them?
Calories count, but do we need to count them? From 6th April, you’ll see a change in our menus. Following new government regulations all dishes and some drinks (soft and non or low alcohol only) must display their calorie content. We’ll admit it, we had a moment holding our heads in our tentacles as we pictured the mammoth task ahead and the fact that we offer seven menus including lunch and vegan, as well as a 12-page drinks menu!
However, as our super-squid chefs rose to the challenge, scrutinising every ingredient that goes into creating our full-flavoured dishes, we discovered that taste and eating-satisfaction does not automatically mean calorie-laden.
As our Head of Food, Agnelo Pereira says,
“People often make the mistake of assuming that all Thai food must be high in calories due to its depth of flavour and richness – especially when it comes to a silky, rich curry. But this quality is delivered through the fantastic natural ingredients found across Thailand which are both flavourful and nutritious, as well as Thai cooking methods which lock the flavour and health value in.”
One of the big questions facing the hospitality sector with the new change in regulations is how to guide customers to read and digest (no pun intended) this new calorie information in order to make more informed eating decisions. In short, what do the figures actually mean and how are we to judge the kcal number beside all dishes?
Government guidance suggests an adult needs around 2000 calories a day though this is influenced by many variables such as your age, sex, metabolism as well as environmental factors so it’s a tricky measuring stick. Calories are also just one piece of the puzzle when looking at a meal’s nutritional value and some ingredients. However, you might find it useful to see a few popular meal choices and their calories to provide context and comparison for your Thai favourites.
Take a cheese sandwich, for example. Whilst there are variations in terms of types of bread and cheese, a basic cheese baguette is approximately 570kcal. Spaghetti Bolognese is around 670kcal and a Sunday roast with beef, veggies and a single Yorkshire Pud easily tops 1200kcals.
Armed with these basic comparisons, here are just some of the dishes which really surprised us, the first being our fiery and flavoursome Tropical Jungle Curry with chicken which came in at a pleasing 222kcal. Cheese sarnie – move over! And if you can’t resist the rich, deep silkiness of our favourite Thai Green Curry with chicken or prawns, you might feel reassured to note the calorie content is a reasonable 670kcal.
Another big winner is our moreish Big Flavour Mushroom Larb – an exotic mushroom dish served chilled which packs a tasty, fiery punch with chilli, mint and ground toasted rice – coming in at 85kcal. We’ve heard guests say they could eat our Mushroom Larb all day – with calories that low, we say why not?
The dish with the highest calorie content is our Two Giggling Squids lunch tapas set at 1379kcal. Yes, this is more than half the daily calorie allowance on paper, but it’s a generous portion of four dishes, including our Lamb Massaman Curry which is filled with delicious cashew nuts that are naturally high in calories but also nutritional value. It’s also not something you’re likely to have every day.
And herein lies the key to helping you make sense of the new menus. Whilst calorie counting offers a useful guide, its aim is to help identify the real villains of the food world such as sweet treats, fizzy drinks and ultra-processed ready meals and make sure we maintain a good balance between healthy eating and the occasional treat. Calories are by no means the last word on what makes a healthy meal. But we already know this – cram in the vegetables, herbs and spices for both their nutritional and taste value, swap your proteins once or twice a week for a vegetarian or vegan option and most importantly never lose the simple enjoyment of a freshly-cooked meal with friends and family.