The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) just released the “winners” of its annual Xtreme Eating Award, which tracks the calorie, saturated fat, sodium and sugar content of meals served at chain restaurants across the US. Amongst such expected “dis-honorees” as double-bacon cheeseburgers (that’s the 1,770-calorie Bacon Cheddar Double at Johnny Rocket’s) and heavy, sugar-laden chocolate cake (the Chocolate Zuccotto Cake at Maggiano’s Little Italy, which has over 1,800 calories) were some unexpectedly healthy-sounding foods. Who would have thought that a large Peanut Power Plus Grape smoothie from Smoothie King would weigh in at 1,460 calories – three-quarters of the generally recommended 2,000 daily calories? The smoothie also contains 22 teaspoons of added sugar — enough for three and a half days! Could you have guessed that The Cheesecake Factory’s seemingly nutritious Bistro Shrimp Pasta – with its shrimp and fresh arugula, tomato, and mushrooms – would in fact have the highest calorie count (3,120 calories!) of any entrée on the menu? The 89 grams of saturated fat in the pasta is four and a half times the recommended daily maximum of 20 grams.
With options like this out there, it would be easy to inadvertently sabotage your New Year’s resolutions by picking such virtuous-sounding dishes. Make sure you check the calorie count, as well at the fat, sodium, and added sugar content, of food that you consume while out; also, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on portion size. Or even better, make restaurant-style meals at home so you control the ingredients and thus the fat, calories and portion size.