Shocking Restaurant Meals to Avoid This Year

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has recently released their Xtreme Eating 2013 report. This yearly publication highlights the most shocking levels of calories, saturated fat, sugar and sodium in restaurant dishes across the country.

We've seen some noteworthy diet-friendly dining choices over the past several years, but restaurants still have a lot of work to do in the nutrition department—and this list is proof of that! Check out some of these outrageous meals from CSPI's ''no-no'' list, plus smarter alternatives. Have you tried any on the list?

Bistro Shrimp Pasta (The Cheesecake Factory)
This dish might seem like a healthy choice because of the shrimp, mushrooms and arugula. However, at 3,120 calories and 89 grams of saturated fat, it's the most caloric thing on the menu—yes, even more than the cheesecakes. (Check out lighter options from the Cheesecake factory here.)

If you're craving some lower-calorie crustaceans, try a lunch portion of Olive Garden’s Linguine alla Marinara with Grilled Shrimp for only 360 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat.

Make it at home: Try this Shrimp and Broccoli Scampi for just 238 calories per serving!
18-ounce Veal Porterhouse (Maggiano’s Little Italy)
Is it really necessary to eat six times the amount of a normal serving of veal in one sitting? Maggiano's thinks so: This colossally large portion of meat weighs in at 1,900 calories, 40 grams of saturated fat and 2,860 milligrams of sodium. And that's without any sides! (''You'd be better off eating four Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizzas,'' says CSPI.)

For a more reasonably-sized steak, try Flo’s 7-ounce Filet from Longhorn Steakhouse with a low-calorie mixed greens side salad and fresh vegetables. This complete, nutrient-rich meal is only 450 calories, 17 grams of fat and 920 mg of sodium.

Make it at home: Get a taste of veal without all the calories by making these Stuffed Mushrooms with Ground Veal (only 150 calories per serving).
Country Fried Steak & Eggs (IHOP)
This herculean meal includes 8 ounces of fried steak with country gravy, but it doesn't stop there! You also get to pile on two eggs, hash browns and two buttermilk pancakes. That filling feast comes with a nutritional cost of 1,760 calories, as well as 23 grams of saturated fat and a whopping 3,720 milligrams of sodium. (Get help navigating the lighter side of the IHOP menu here.)

For a better breakfast, choose Denny’s Fit Slam, which includes scrambled egg whites with fresh spinach and grape tomatoes, as well as turkey bacon, an English muffin and seasonal fruit. This nutrient-packed breakfast option clocks in at a doable 360 calories, 3 grams of saturated fat and only 820 mg of sodium. 

Make it at home: Try this lightened-up Country Fried Steak for just 280 calories per serving!
Baby Back Ribs (Full Rack) with Shiner Bock BBQ Sauce (Chili's)
According to CSPI, eating this rack of ribs would supply you with the nutritional equivalent of two Chili's Classic Sirloin Steak dinners with mashed potatoes—plus another 10-ounce Classic Sirloin Steak on the side. This meal tips the scales at 1,660 calories, 39 grams of saturated fat and 5,025 milligrams of sodium. If you order the Homestyle Fries and Cinnamon Apples to complete your meal, you increase the damage to over 2,300 calories, 45 grams of saturated fat and nearly 6,500 milligrams of sodium (a four-day supply!). (Find better choices at Chili's here.)

For a taste of pork without the crazy calories, try a one-piece serving of Applewood Bacon-Wrapped Sirloin from Golden Corral for 250 calories, 12 grams of fat and 720 milligrams of sodium. Add some mixed veggies and a side of fruit to round out the meal.

Make it at home: Prepare these tasty low-sugar ribs in the slow-cooker for melt-in your mouth flavor and texture. Only 230 calories per serving!

Little Italy Chocolate Zuccotto Cake (Maggiano's)
There's nothing like a little dessert to end a meal. But there's nothing ''little'' about this cake: It provides 1,820 calories and 62 grams of saturated fat in just one slice—and that's after you've downed a full Italian dinner!

Get your chocolate fix in a more sensible way with a serving of Romano’s Macaroni Grill Dark Chocolate Gelato for only 260 calories and 8 grams of saturated fat.

Make it at home: For a slimmer dessert that still tastes decadent, try this Low-Fat Chocolate Cake for 150 calories a slice.

Now that you're armed with these scary stats, make it a point to research healthier options before you go out to eat. SparkPeople's Dining Out Guide offers a wealth of information to help you stick to your nutritional goals wherever you go.
Have you tried any of the above dishes? Were they worth the calories?

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ERIN_POSCH 10/5/2020
thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for sharing Report
None of these dishes would be worth the calories...that's mor than I'm supposed to eat in two days for that pasta! Report
I have not eaten any of this stuff. The numbers are scary! Report
Wow, makes you really think! Report
Who on earth would think the bistro shrimp pasta would be healthy? Cream sauce? Pasta? Breaded shrimp? Now, the real trick is to take an item that you think would be healthy and expose it for what it is. Report
Honestly for this list, I have not tried any.
Years ago, I would eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Now with knowledge, I enjoy cooking and with my new friend SparkPeople, I am more aware of what I am eating. Report
I would love to see this list but featuring Canada Restaurants Report
Good info. Report
OMG a whole list of things in restaurants I never order anyway! Yea, nothing to miss here. Report
And We just love the cheese cake wonder we are chubby Report
Thank goodness I do most of the cooking that my husband and I eat. Since they don't put calorie counts on the restaurants where I live would never even know the damage that was being done. Report
It is good to know how many calories are in some of this stuff.
I will know what to avoid in the future. Report
I have to say, after educating myself and eating nutritiously and healthfully for a while now, I don't crave the salty, fat-laden meals in restaurants. True, I don't go out and spend hard-earned money on a dry grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli, and have learned to "budget" calories and fat, but there certainly ARE great choices, delicious choices out there. Well-prepared food, expertly cooked and beautifully seasoned, can be had. And once you cleanse your palate and sharpen your tastebuds you'll learn to enjoy good, healthful food.
I did! Report
More proof of Marion Nestle's case in What to Eat: The food industry needs us to eat up the 3,900 calories per person per day they're producing and they will do anything to get us to by it. Layers of fat, sugar, and salt; cute names and descriptions; dazzling artificial colors and chemically produced flavor infusions. Skip it all!
I have two problems with this article. First, none of this is shocking. We all ready know that restaurant portions are inflated. With a little education you can plan ahead when eating out. Either bring you own container or immediately ask for a box when ordering anything at a restaurant. Immediately put at least half of it away. That will immediately save calories. My other problem with the article is the author choose products that are known to be fattening. Shrimp cooked in butter is just a fat and cholesterol bomb. No one should be ordering IHOP's Country Fried Steak and Eggs with health in mind - and I don't know any Southern that thinks slathering their breakfast in sausage gravy is good for them. Report
If the word "Cheesecake" appears in the restaurant name, that should be your first clue that you need to keep on driving. Practically every entree on the menu is LOADED with terrible nutrition. Report
This article is great because it offers healthy alternatives and doesn't just post what to avoid. Way to go Sparkpeople! Report
Maggiano's Chocolate Z Cake is A-Ma-ZING!!!!! They serve family style so we always get one and split it among 6 people. We all get a few bites of that oh-so rich and delicious dessert and it is totally worth it. Of course, you know going into Maggiano's that that is a special occasion meal. Report
Wow! I can't get over the sodium amounts of many of these meals! Crazy! Report
I've eaten at Maggiano’s Little Italy. But didn't have the veal. They serve "family" style. So, one plate is supposed to serve 2-3 people, not one. I had the ravioli and ended up taking over half home.

Thanks Report
Wow, I'd have never guess the ribs were that bad! But then Chili's salads are ridiculously fattening and sodium-packed, so you can't expect much of anything else to be remotely healthy there. Report
I'm planning to take a co-worker to IHOP after work this morning (we're night shifters). Already planned for a healthy omlette and a planned treat of short stack pancakes. (Yes, I realize pancakes are "cakes") Report
I've never seen the point of such ridiculous meals. It's like the southwestern restaurants that offer you a free 72-oz steak if you eat it -- and the whole dinner --within an hour, or like a frat. food-stuffing contest. there's no pleasure in that kind of food, at least not for me. It's conspicuous consumption--something you do just because you can...kind of showing off. Ugh. Report
Wow! So Glad I Don't Eat Out Accept An Occasiional Subway Sandwich And Even Eating Them I Get Too Much Sodium or Let Me Say MORE Sodium Than I Desire. I'm Looking At How Much Sodium These Meals Contain. I'm Sure Years Ago I Consumed This Many Calories At HOME So I'm Not Judging Because Some People Can Eat This Many Calories And It Does Nothing To Their Bodies Just Like People Who Smoke And Live Into Their 90's+ Like George Burns(100). Thanks For This Eye Opening Information! Report
Does anyone know if there is anything like this for Canada? I don't eat out much but would love yo know (even just for curiosity's sake). Report
I am absolutely amazed that a single dish can contain over 3,000 calories! So unreal! Report
I am amazed at the number of calories in some of these. Even a half portion would have way too many calories. I am glad that some of the fast food places have started posting the number of calories on the menu. It is a big help in choosing which item to select. I was shocked that the polish sausage I buy from the food court at Costco was so high in calorie. Now I eat half and take half home for the next day. Report
I didn't know that Olive Garden has a "light options" menu' that's good to know. Just wish that they could find a way to make those entrees without all the salt; the sodium levels are still over 1000mg per serving. Report
Amazing the number of calories you could consume by not being careful. Very, very scary. Report
Great Information. Will be checking Restaurents Menus out more closely. Will be better to never go to Restaurents and Eat at Home. God Blessings to Everyone. Have Wonderful Week.. Take Care. Report
Not incredibly surprising except I couldn't believe that there is actually a dish being served with over 3,000 calories!!!! How can any restaurant think that they should even add that to a menu????? I never go to Cheesecake Factory even though I have one 15 minutes away. The couple times I have met people there in the past, I was horrified at the lack of good choices and a menu full of gluttony. Report
I did a blog about this a few days ago. I eat very few meals at restaurants. I had a hamburger platter at Chili's a few days ago. I asked the waitress about it. It had a pound of meat in it. I felt heavy after eating half and took the other half and the fries home. Two more meals that way. I have my doubts that many people can actually eat a pound of meat at a sitting, plus fries and dessert. I think the portion are so big so we can have two more meals at home after the restaurant meal. Report
Most of these things I wouldn't order anyway, but sometimes if you want to treat yourself when you go out to eat, fine as long as it doesn't become habit. Report
If you must, there are ways to manage. I usually divide any restaurant meal in two to take half home for another meal. On occasion, I've looked at the portion and divided by three. Report
I wish I had read this...or the online website for Shari's...before dining out tonight...I had a cobb salad with avocados....YIKES!!! 800 calories!!!!! Report
Will not be eating any one these-feel sorry for those that do! Report
WOW! Being in Australia, I haven't eaten at any of these restaurants, and that is incredible!!! I wonder what my face restaurant meals here weigh in at :/ Report
Hard to believe it, not eating it for sure. Report
Hard to believe it, not eating it for sure. Report
All this stuff is no surprise in 2013. We live way up in the rural mountains, hardly ever go to a real city to eat out, so, when we do, we sure as heck arn't going to order yet another plate of broccoli, kale, and grass clippings! We would order something from the decadent meals mentioned, because they taste good, quite frankly......someone needs to be honest and tell it like it is, lots of healthy foods don't taste good, so we need to be constantly nagged to eat them. And that's the truth!! Be honest now and then, people. Report
great information to keep in mind Report
We don't have any of these restaurants here, except for IHOP... and frankly, if I want pancakes, I make them myself. ;) Report
Over 3000 calories in the shrimp dish?!? Unreal! Report
People actually eat this crap? Seriously? When you said "18-ounce Veal Porterhouse" I felt ill. Report
Oh man-- feeling guilty already! Report
I love this magazine
! Report