Each year many people make food-related New Year's resolutions or goals. Figuring out how to make dining out fit in with those goals can be a big challenge. Over the years, we've highlighted many of the healthier options in our Diet Friendly Dining series. Last year we were encouraged by the increased number of nutrition conscious restaurant options that were available.
This year, we've seen all sorts of new foods hit the market. Some, like the recently invented Cronut, throw nutrition caution to the wind. Others, like Satisfries, are an attempt to create tasty lower-calorie favorites. We scoured restaurant menus to find the biggest nutrition disasters so you'll know what to avoid when eating out in the new year.
15 of the Worst New Restaurant Options
Applebee's Brew Pub Pretzels & Beer Cheese Dip Appetizer
(1,170 calories/55 g fat/ 3,380 mg sodium/ 39 g protein)
Even with its 10 grams of fiber, this appetizer is off the rails in sodium and calories. Having a taste with a group of people is the best way to enjoy this appetizer, but it definitely isn't a great choice to eat alone.
Applebee's Bourbon Black & Bleu Burger
(1,310 calories/90 g fat/2,630 mg sodium/66 g protein)
This burger packs a calorie and sodium punch all by itself and, when you add fries, you really break the calorie bank. Selecting a regular burger and asking for a side of bleu cheese can give you the taste you want without throwing you off your goals.
California Pizza Kitchen Jambalaya Fettuccine
(1100 calories/54 g fat/2,370 mg sodium/58 g protein)
Cajun lovers may be tempted with this new fettuccine option but as with almost any fettuccine, buyer beware. Rich flavor comes with rich sauces that are accompanied by high fat, calories and sodium. If fettuccine is what you desire, opt for the Shrimp Scampi Zucchini Fettuccine (470 calories/24 g fat/1,030 mg sodium/27 g protein) from the Lite Adventures menu instead.
Chick-Fil-A Breakfast Sausage Platter
(810 calories/54 g fat/1,850 mg sodium/28 g protein)
This big breakfast meal will likely cost you your breakfast AND lunch allotment of calories or more. A Sausage Breakfast Burrito (500 calories/28 g fat/910 mg sodium/22 g protein) would be a better option that saves you more than 300 calories and almost half the fat while maintaining the protein content.
Chili's Big Mouth Bites Burger with Homemade Ranch and Fries
(1,800 calories/111 g fat/4,070 mg sodium/63 g protein)
The nutrition content speaks for itself and just about any other plain burger is a better choice, especially if you select a salad with vinaigrette dressing or fresh fruit instead of the fries.
Culver's Tall Vanilla Concrete Mixer Dessert with M&M's
(1,476 calories/83 g fat/288 mg sodium/25 g protein)
Fresh frozen desserts are a tasty tempting treat on a hot day or as a "treat" after working out. Unfortunately, they can undo much of the good you wanted to accomplish with exercise. If you must have a tasty treat, consider these ideas as a healthier alternative.
El Pollo Loco Chicken Nachos
(1,050 calories/61 g fat/1,680 mg sodium/35 g protein)
Be careful not to be fooled into thinking that this chicken version of nachos is going to be a healthy alternative. Although made with fire grilled chicken, pinto beans and guacamole (which provides fiber and good fats), healthy ingredients don't compensate for the fried chips, queso sauce and sour cream.
Friendly's Citrus Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Fries
(1,250 calories/69 g fat/2,250 mg sodium/52 g protein)
This is a good example of why it's important to read the description on the menu and not just make a decision based on the name. The name would suggest this grilled sandwich would be a low-calorie and low-fat choice, especially if you picked a side salad with fat-free dressing instead of the fries. However, when you read the description you find that the three-cheese blend and mayo make the sandwich a dangerous choice even with the best of intentions.
IHOP Bacon & Eggs Combo with Carrot Cake Pancakes
(1,310 calories/74 g fat/2,390 mg sodium/41 g protein)
This standard menu combo offers seasonal pancake options that are oh so tempting. Unfortunately, it's those high calorie sweet treat temptations that take the calorie count over the top. Stick with traditional pancakes to cut the numbers in half.
Jason's Deli Zucchini Grillini Sandwich
(610 calories/36 g fat/710 mg sodium/18 g protein)
What could be so bad about a grilled zucchini sandwich? Most of the calories in this sandwich come from the olive oil used to roast the zucchini and bread (150 calories) as well as the two slices of dense bread (240 calories). This is a nutrient-rich, lower-sodium sandwich if your calorie range is high enough to support it.
O'Charley's Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie
(1,350 calories/92 g fat/2,900 mg sodium/40 g protein)
Although this can be a tasty selection on a cold winter evening, it will be at the expense of an entire day's nutritional allowance for many people. Enjoy one or two of the tasty buttered yeast rolls (130 calories/1.5 g fat/110 mg sodium/4 g protein) along with it and more people will meet their daily calorie limit, for sure.
Quiznos Chicken Tortilla Soup in a Bread Bowl
(770 calories/28 g fat/1,830 mg sodium/31 g protein)
This hearty soup will definitely be more filling when served in a bread bowl, but at a high nutritional cost. Opt instead for a large bowl with crackers (290 calories/16 g fat/1,390 mg sodium/12 g protein) for a much healthier meal option, if you have the sodium to spare.
Romano's Macaroni Grill Italian Nachos
(1,510 calories/112 g fat/2,280 mg sodium/56 g protein)
Even sharing this appetizer with several friends will put your goal of staying on nutritional track in jeopardy. Appetizers are simply best avoided unless you are selecting them in place of an entrée, and this isn't a good choice for that option.
TGI Fridays Sedona Black Bean Burger
(1,240 calories/76 g fat/3,440 mg sodium/37 g protein)
The idea of a black bean burger sounds great, especially when it includes sliced avocado, right? Unfortunately, this one nutritionally tips the scales in sodium, but also in calories and fat. If you still want to give this burger a try, ask for the Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese to be left off and request the chipotle mayo be served on the side so you can limit how much you consume.
Whataburger Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich Meal
(1,760 calories/76 g fat/2,720 mg sodium/49 g protein)
Everything about this sandwich makes it interesting and different--100-percent chicken breast strips, BBQ sauce, Monterey Jack cheese and a Texas toast bun! Unfortunately the nutritional damage will not be interesting at all. At the very least, select the junior version of the sandwich and skip the fries in favor of apple slices.
What nutrition disasters have you seen on restaurant menus lately?
More From SparkPeople