Diet Friendly Dining: Are Your Extreme Favorites on the 2009 List?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

The dailySpark has previously looked at The 11 Worst Foods of 2008. Now, we bring you the 2009 Xtreme Eating Awards for some of the most loaded choices in the casual dining world.

Many of us love macaroni and cheese and know that it can be a higher fat and higher calorie meal choice when eating away from home. However, if you go to the Cheesecake Factory, you could select Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls that are even higher in fat and calories, containing 1,570 calories and 69 grams of fat. The trend of taking already high fat, high calorie choices and making them unhealthier with large portion sizes and high fat preparation methods is becoming very common in the casual dining world.

This week the Xtreme Eating 2009 Awards came out. The Fried Macaroni and Cheese balls were on the list but what else was included?

Here are five of the 2009 Xtreme Eating winners -
  • Chili's Big Mouth Bites - Appetizer burger bites that you can share before your meal or select as an entrée. The bites provide 1,580 calories, 28 grams of saturated fat and 2,930 mg of sodium. If you choose to have this as an entrée and include fries, fried onion strings and dipping sauce, the grand total for your meal would be 2,350 calories, 38 grams of saturated fat and 3,940 mg of sodium. Talk about blowing your diet!
  • Olive Garden Tour of Italy - Homemade Lasagna, Lightly Breaded Chicken Parmigiana and Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo providing 1,450 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat and 3,830 mg of sodium. If you select a breadstick for an additional 150 calories and one serving of the Garden-Fresh Salad with dressing for an additional 350 calories, you end up with a complete meal that is just less than 2,000 total calories.
  • The Cheesecake Factory Chicken and Biscuits - This favorite comfort food provides about 2,500 calories. This would be the same as about four drumsticks and four thighs of KFC Original Recipe chicken AND five Home-Style Biscuits.
  • Applebee's Quesadilla Burger - This mixture of two restaurant favorites plus a side of fries providing a meal platter of 1,820 calories, 46 grams of saturated fat and 4,410 mg of sodium.
  • The Cheesecake Factory Philly Style Flat Iron Steak - This favorite with fries provides 1,760 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat and 3,840 mg of sodium. Select it 'Philly Style' with additional cheese sauce and it becomes 2,320 calories, 47 grams of saturated fat and 5,340 mg of sodium.

Several other items made the list as well like Red Lobster's Ultimate Fondue or Uno's Mega-Sized Deep Dish Sundae. These over sized selection are more obviously intended for a group so that the 1,490 and 2,800 calories respectively are shared. However, the other selections appear to be single serving choices that without even thinking can exceed your daily recommended intake in the blink of an eye.

Stay tuned - Next week I will review the MEAL Act and how it can help reduce the Xtreme list for 2010.

What extreme entrées do you find while dining? Why do you think so many restaurants offer these types of selections?

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  • 116
    I am so glad these restaurants for the most part have nutrition info on their websites. They seem to be a favorite choice for the birthday celebration for coworkers and when we brought up the nutritional info it was quite an eye opener. Luckily there are some decent choices to be had at each restaurant and if you take your own salad dressing they are even better. - 2/8/2010   11:21:13 AM
  • 115
    I am with you LABAMBARUSA I thought that the Quesadilla Burger was a wiser choice. I could not eat all of it and did not eat the fry's. When I ate this I'm sure that I would not of if the calories would of been listed. - 2/8/2010   9:51:24 AM
    I check salt and high fructose corn syrup (hfcs) contents in ALL packaged food, too. Especially frozen dinners. And watch out for that "healthy" bread that has sugar, honey, hfcs AND salt! Arnold's brand now has bread without hfcs and lower amounts of salt and sugar. It's no wonder we're a fat nation. Our packaged, processed and restaurant foods are stacked against us. - 9/29/2009   8:54:45 AM
  • 113
    I (my boyfriend more so) enjoy the Cheesecake Factory, but their food is out of control. I always stick with a weight managment option and bring half home... but he can easily eat two days worth of calories, etc in one sitting. Olive Garden is another good place to eat, but they don't have many healthful choices... especially because I always want to indulge in the breadsticks and salad! I've actually (before my determination to get fit) had the Quesadilla Burger from Applebee's. For something with such high stats, you'd think it would have tasted better. I can pass on all those high calorie, ridiculous meals and eat healthy, besides, if you ask anyone who's ever had me cook for them, I can usually cook up one delicious, Healthy meal :-) - 8/6/2009   1:58:23 PM
  • 112
    I'm so glad none of my favorites are on that list! My worst eating out problem is when my hubby wants to go to Quaker Steak and Lube for wings and magna fries. I try to eat as little as possible, and we bring a lot home. We have a well fed garbage can...LOL Hubby won't eat the leftovers, and I don't want them, but he doesn't know I usually throw it out the next day. Keep the peace.... - 7/19/2009   12:53:09 PM
    It must take a lot of effort to read this and then still go out and eat these foods. I guess in a way I am not surprised but still I didn't expect it to be that extreme. I am grateful for articles like these. - 6/20/2009   5:11:49 PM
    They call this food? I will continue to enjoy a good old homemade Mac and cheese with a vegie or two added and canned tomatoes. thank you - 6/19/2009   7:02:34 PM
  • ML1601
    I noticed that most if not all restaurants in NYC, posted the calories and breakdown of each item on their menu. Why don't restaurants everywhere else do this too? It helped so much when deciding on what to eat. - 6/10/2009   1:53:08 PM
  • 108
    Holy moly! I knew foods like that were bad for you for obvious reasons but I had no idea how fast all of those calories add up. Thanks for the info! - 6/10/2009   10:49:00 AM
    That book "Eat this, Not That", really helped me. It points out the bad things at popular restaurants and fast food places and gives you suggestions for substitutions. It is great, it even includes grocery items. And there is a kid version too. I live by it now. - 6/10/2009   10:46:51 AM
  • 106
    I wonder what the calories are for deep fried twinkies that you can get at sushi restaurants...gotta be pretty high! That and the milkshakes at Jack in the Box and Carl's Jr.
    If I eat at fast food (usually getting dinner with the kids on the run), I either get the salads without dressing or the kids meal (about the right size of high fat). - 6/9/2009   11:16:41 AM
    I (unfortunately) eat out 2-3 times per week (usually the weekends). I love The Cheesecake Factory. But, I make sure to choose healthier options (grilled chicken or salmon) and if I start feeling full, I ask for a to-go box. It's really about making smart choices and understanding moderation. - 6/8/2009   3:25:23 PM
  • 104
    So gross! I think it would truly open so many eyes if these restaurants were required to list this information next to the lovely photos in their menus. - 6/8/2009   12:30:45 PM
  • 103
    I have such a bad prob with going out during the summer and eating. - 6/8/2009   9:58:59 AM
  • 102
    I don't really dine out - probably once every four months. I find it easier to stick to home cooking. Since reading this blog, I can see that there are a lot of unhealthy choices in dining out. - 6/7/2009   10:05:38 PM
  • 101
    Wow I am totally shocked by the cals of all those foods. I have personally never had those but know people that have. Its amazing to me how fatty American restaurants are! - 6/7/2009   7:25:55 PM
  • 100
    I love to cook so going out to restaruants is easy to avoid, but I know they are all loaded with pitfalls. I hardly ever go out to eat anymore without checking out the restaurants web page for nutritional info. Then I plan what I am going to order BEFORE I even go. That helps a lot, because I don't even need to look at the menu and all of those glossy professionally done photos of the "bad, but delicious" goodies. - 6/7/2009   8:25:07 AM
  • 99
    Before I quit eating beef I used to get the Quesidilla burger, and eat all of it! No wonder I developed a weight problem! Now that I have taken charge of preparing my own food I can see how so many calories can be hidden! Thanks for the information. - 6/7/2009   8:05:46 AM
    Outback's Cheese Fries are about 2900 calories. I looked it up after returning from dinner one night and needing to log in what I ate while we were there. I was thankful that the fries were too salty and we'd sent them back. - 6/6/2009   10:20:06 PM
  • 97
    Eating this stuff would be like throwing away a week's worth of accountability! - 6/6/2009   9:37:19 PM
  • 96
    Not surprising...after reading this who would want to eat this crap? - 6/6/2009   4:22:27 PM
  • 95
    Wow!!! I would love to see a review on these resturant's salad's and see how they fair! - 6/6/2009   3:25:41 PM
    I am always amazed at how many calories restaurant food has and especially the Cheese Factory's Chicken and Biscuits. That one could get the same amount of calories from KFC blows me away.

    A good thing about listing foods like this is that not only are you informed about how extreme these foods are, you can find a way to fit them in as a rare treat if you plan your eating carefully.

    I rarely eat out anymore because I want real controll over what I eat and really make an effor to eat more healthfully. - 6/6/2009   2:17:41 PM
  • 93
    OMG I cannot bellieve what I just read. Gee and I thought by going there and eating half was doing good. Not anymore for me atleast. - 6/6/2009   2:13:32 PM
  • 92
    No more makes you get them, so they are a choice. We use to get a PooPoo Platter at the Chinese restaurant, but no longer do since they have a buffet and you don't have to bother to wait a long while to get your order. - 6/6/2009   11:21:50 AM
  • 91
    I love Applebee's Quisidilla burger - but I only eat half - I have to separate it when it comes!! - 6/6/2009   10:03:00 AM
  • 90
    Restaurants offer these foods because people eat them. As long as people are still eating them they will still offer them.
    I love Applebee's Quesadilla Burger's but I usually split one with someone and will only eat one on a really rare occasion. Quesadilla Burger's are for MAJOR cheat days. - 6/6/2009   9:49:38 AM
  • 89
    We used to order the artichoke dip at many restaurant.......tastes oh so good, but packed with loads of cheese. Quesadilla's were also a favorite. We didn't eat them blindly........we knew how bad they were, but once in a blue moon they were too good to pass up. - 6/6/2009   8:59:47 AM
  • 88
    I think ARIAVIDYA got it right - restaurants put this kind of item on the menu because their customers are *asking* for the larger portions and the "taste hit" that comes from deep frying, breading, dousing in cheese, etc.

    If you've ever hung out with teenage boys, you *know* they can eat anything - and these kids grow up to be men who continue to want to eat *anything* - and us gals aren't far behind! :)

    Why blame the restaurants? They are responding to market demand. When "low carb" was in fashion, menus started featuring low-carb entrees. When low fat was in style, salads made it on to the menu - do you remember when salads were few and far between when you looked at a menu?

    Given that dining out (not fast food) is usually either a celebration or at least a desire to eat "tastier food", I really am not surprised at what I find on menus. It's up to us customers to start asking for different choices if we don't like what's on offer!
    - 6/6/2009   5:35:42 AM
  • 87
    I almost order the Chicken & Biscuit at The Cheesecake Factory. My second favorite is Chicken Romano (I get the lunch portion and two meals out of it). But I always get three meals out of it - so that's not too bad 833 calories per meal. And more usually than not I skip dessert. And when I do I'm splitting it with a friend.
    Most restaraunts do list their calories on their website. I try to remmeber to check there first before going out. - 6/6/2009   1:14:22 AM
  • 86
    We use to order Blooming onions which were really good but WOW when we found out the calories that were in them , well that was the last time we had them. Over a year ago. - 6/5/2009   10:25:26 PM
  • 85
    We use to order Blooming onions which were really good but WOW when we found out the calories that were in them , well that was the last time we had them. Over a year ago. - 6/5/2009   10:25:26 PM
    Wow, that's frightening. My favourite xtreme is a round of Camembert cheese, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried with Cranberry sauce on the side. Very naughty, and I'm glad to say I have not had it for a long, long time. - 6/5/2009   8:29:15 PM
  • 83
    OMG - I don't think I've ever eaten any of those. They look delicious... and dangerous! - 6/5/2009   8:01:00 PM
    really no wonder america is one of the fatest countrys.. I would be one of those people going to a resteruant ordering something like the burger from applebees and eat it not realizing i just ate 2 days worth of fats and calories not realizing it. I think it should be part of the law that they make every menu item with nutritanol value next to every item.. - 6/5/2009   5:59:28 PM
  • 81
    Sorry, couldn't let this one slip:
    "You're not going to lose weight by becoming a vegetarian--ever seen a skinny cow or slim elephant? They are both vegetarians (herbivores)."

    Um, that's a silly silly argument. Cows and elephants aren't 'fat', they are large boned herbivores with muscle. I've never seen an elephant with a huge beer belly!

    And yes, you CAN and many DO lose weight becoming vegetarian. I went from a size 14 to a 10 when I first went veggie/vegan and all I did was stop eating animals/animal products. I didn't stop eating meat/dairy/eggs to lose weight, either. It was all ethical.

    Since being vegan/veggie I tend to fluctuate a bit based on how well I'm eating but I've stayed right around a size 10 without huge amounts of gain. I'm here because I gained a bit of weight after my divorce and am already back to a size 9, leaning towards 8, after only 7 weeks on Spark.

    Sorry, that was just too snarky a comment to ignore, FIATVOLUNTASTUA.
    Eat meat if you want to but don't say that being veg won't help weight loss when it has helped tons of people, including me. - 6/5/2009   5:40:36 PM
  • 80
    Speaking of making things fatter then they started out to be. In one of our local restaurants they make deep fried Oreo's (had one a couple of years ago, they are good, but too many calories). They Bread it then deep fat fry the cookie, then serve it with with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. I think I will stick to my small york peppermint pattie after dinner. - 6/5/2009   3:56:02 PM
  • 79
    Ironically, the cost of ingredients for such mega-dishes is some of the lowest part of a restaurant's overhead (especially when they buy from huge suppliers relying on agri-business farming, rather than local, carefully-produced things). That means you think you are getting a deal, they know they are getting a deal, and we all suffer from increased girth and decreased health.
    My list of restaurants shrinks every year as more and more of them succumb to the add salt, size, sugar to their philosophy. I can't think of a single chain restaurant I patronize any more. Sad, because dining out used to be fun. Now it just doesn't FEEL good anymore. - 6/5/2009   1:10:47 PM
    I love The Cheesecake Factory! It is my favorite place to eat. You can eat at those places. Remember to ask for a take-home container before your meal arrives. As soon as the food arrives, take half of it (or more) and put it in your take-home container. In defense of the Cheesecake Factory, their food is so good and the servings are HUGE! I find their food to be less of a threat than Applebee's. Applebee's servings are pretty small, but still loaded with calories, unless you order their WW entrees.

    To be able to order what you really want without the guilt: box up half of your meal before you even taste it! Have a very lite breakfast and go to the restaurant for lunch. It will keep you full usually through dinner. If not, plan to have something like a ready-made salad at home in case you are hungry for dinner. - 6/5/2009   12:43:52 PM
  • 77
    I agree that portions are out of control but we cannot blame the restaurants. We are our own worst enemies. If people did not order these items they would no longer be on the menus. If people were better educated nutritionally we could make better choices and maybe some of the extreme portions would be begin to disappear from restaurant menus. - 6/5/2009   12:26:09 PM
  • 76
    This is absolutely insane...that people would actually eat that much unhealthy stuff in one meal---maybe they are rebelling against those who tell them to choose better options ("No body will tell me what to do--no body")--just like the ones who will keep on smoking or driving while drinking...
    Oregon now has a law on the books that restuarants must show the nutritional information on the menu board for all to see before they order. I think the new law takes effect in July...Yeah! - 6/5/2009   12:02:19 PM
  • 75
    I used to work at both the Cheesecake Factory and Red Lobster. Guess that explains why I gained weight working there... - 6/5/2009   11:48:14 AM
  • 74
    I think these extremes are an easy choice for some people to pick because they sound good and offer a lot of food, but you don't know how much of a calorie punch it packs. - 6/5/2009   11:39:56 AM
    I too wish restaurants would post nutrition information, including carbs and fiber. Probably too much to ask. My husband ate the 4 steak sliders at a Red Robin last week. Wonder how much calories and fat there were in that? I had the grilled chicken fiesta salad with salsa for dressing. Choosing a healthy lifestyle is a matter of life or death for me, so I have set my heart before I walk into any restaurant to order what is good for me,and learning to make the good stuff my preference. The weight is coming off slowly, but it is coming off. It is also helpful to take home half the meal at the restaurants where the servings are so large. - 6/5/2009   11:14:00 AM
  • 72
    Oh, I'm with NANADA1947...I have had the Quesadilla burger many times; it's one of my favs. But I order it without fries, and I only eat half the burger. I hope that is choosing more wisely, though realistically I know it is still a high-calorie meal. Thanks for this review!! - 6/5/2009   10:59:00 AM
  • 71
    Lots of people want this stuff-I think they think they are getting a lot for their money. They are-a lot of future problems. There are menu items that I don't even look at. I love fat etc and know I will be tempted so I don't look. The Cheesecake Factory has an appetizer called Thai Lettuce Wraps that I love they seem fine as a meal I hope that they are because its usually what I order. - 6/5/2009   10:48:59 AM
  • 70
    Luckily these items are NOT on my list of wants when I go out to eat! Unfortunately, 2 of my favorite restaurants (Logan's and Bennigans) do not have calorie content posted on their website. When I do eat at these places I try to remember the basics, seasoned chicken, steamed veggies, baked potato. Sometimes I do well, sometimes there are items I'm sure I shouldn't be eating... I would love to find out what they actually cost me! - 6/5/2009   10:44:07 AM
  • 69
    I'm glad I don't eat those. I've made it habit, or try to anyway, go online and check out the nutrition content on certain foods at places we may go out to eat. I know all salads aren't healthy so it gives me a good idea of what to choose. - 6/5/2009   10:40:01 AM
  • 68
    Yikes....I have never had any of these and just reading about them almost made me ill. It is obvious why restaurants offer these type of menu items....they sell. If they didn't, they wouldn't offer them. - 6/5/2009   10:10:14 AM
  • 67
    oh my, i am basically home bound and truly look forward to the very rare times i get to go out to eat..i usually order the quesadilla burger at applebee's, with the "sauce" on the side and a small green salad instead of fries...i eat half of the burger and have the rest for lunch the next, i guess i'll have to rethink my choice. - 6/5/2009   10:09:36 AM

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