No, the title of this post isn’t a reference to a new reality show where a chef with an accent yells at people and tells them their restaurant is for crap. It is a reference to the disasters that await people within the friendly doors of restaurants, disasters that are bad for everyone, but especially for those of us trying to drop a few pounds.
This morning I read an article from Health.com called 9 Worst Calorie Bombs at Chain Restaurants. The article lists the worst of the worst from a survey done by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on the nutrition information for dishes on over 200 chain restaurants. Using the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), guideline that an average adult should eat about 2,000 calories per day, with not more than 35% of those coming from fat, and no more than 7% from saturated fat, CSPI listed those that were the worst disasters on a plate.
The Cheesecake Factory placed 3 items in the top 10 (go figure, a restaurant that is named after cheesecake isn’t a healthy place to eat? Who could have seen that coming?). One of their breakfasts, the Bruleed French Toast, came in at w whopping 2,780 total calories. As an added bonus it also packed in 2,230 milligrams of sodium. Eek. This particular dish isn’t listed on the Cheesecake Factory’s website for nutrition, so I can’t calculate the Weight Watchers Plus points, but suffice to say, it’s a frigging big number.
I was slightly shocked to see an old favorite of mine on the list. The A1 Peppercorn Burger at Red Robin. The particular one that they cited was the Monster version, with the second 6 oz patty of beef, and the bottomless fries. I thankfully never ordered that artery clogger, but I did enjoy the base model from time to time.
If you are a restaurant goer who ever sets foot in the Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin, Famous Dave’s, Chevy’s, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Joe’s Crab Shack, or Maggiano’s Little Italy, you will want to have a look at the entire article.
For me there were a couple of takeaways from the article.
1. If you are weight conscious or health conscious at all, it pays to look up the meals at a restaurant before ordering. In the past I would go online before leaving, and I still do that from time to time. But with the advent of smart phones, you can search right from your table. In my book, if the restaurant won’t tell me what is in a meal, and won’t divulge the nutrition information, it’s a sign to think twice about eating there.
2. Restaurants are not in business to make their customers healthy, they are in business to make money (just like any other business). They know that the best tasting foods that keep the uneducated masses coming back are the ones that are high in calories, loaded with salt, and teeming with saturated fat. If I want to enjoy a trip to a restaurant with family and friends, it is on ME to manage my intake.
3. Any restaurant named after one of the least healthy desserts I can think of might not be a good place to find Weight Watchers Friendly food.
The bottom line is this. I do enjoy going out to eat with family and friends from time to time. Just because I am leading a more healthy lifestyle, and working to lose weight, should not mean that I have to sacrifice that social time. But, to do so, and to do so in a healthy way, I need to have my eyes wide open and plan ahead.
What are your favorite strategies for managing your way through a restaurant on your road to healthy living?