THIS week, the humble British menu is getting a bit of a makeover.

From Wednesday, April 6, all food served at restaurant and pub chains comes with an added ingredient: a calorie count.

The change in legislation affects all food served by firms with over 250 employees, the only exception being short-term specials.

The aim of the government ruling is to help people make more informed choices about what they are eating when eating out.

The hope, too, is that when people realise how many calories they are consuming, restaurants may change what they serve, in the same way that the recent sugar tax led to a reduction in the amount of sugar in drinks.

It’s a welcome idea.

The amount of calories when eating out can be surprisingly large: it is very easy to order a burger and chips that accounts for your entire recommended daily calorie intake in a single meal (2000 calories for women, 2500 for men).

Even healthier options can include hidden calories: a caesar salad at Pizza Express, for example, comes in at just under 1000 calories.

I’ve recently become acutely conscious of how many calories I eat after going on a bit of a health kick.

I’ve been following a diet regime suggested by Dr Michael Mosley, the man who invented the 5:2 concept a few years back.

His latest plan involves eating 800 calories a day in order to lose weight.

Like many people my age, I’ve added on a few pounds over the years.

That was exacerbated by lockdown when I ate too many crisps and drank too much beer to try and help get myself through.

Older readers may remember how I took to cycling to lose the beer belly. This year I decided to try and go further, to see if I could get down to my ideal weight.

I’ve tried diets before to limited success.

This time, I followed the Fast 800 cookbooks by Clare Bailey and Justine Pattison that accompany Mosley’s plan.

The recipes have a strong focus on Mediterranean food – lots of chicken and fish and roasted vegetables – and a complete avoidance of carbs and sugars.

The meals are tasty and varied: unlike previous plans I have followed, you can eat without feeling like you’re on a diet.

The trickiest bit was eating out: if only the government rule about calorie counts had been introduced a couple of months ago.

Anyway, grazie to the Fast 800 cookbooks. I’ve managed to lose over a stone in six weeks and for the first time in a long while, am no longer overweight.

For once, I’m with those critics who write to tell me my column is a little thin.

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