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?