The 15 Worst Foods of the Year

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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?

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QUEENFROG 10/29/2020
2013...nothing new here! LOL Report
KHALIA2 1/29/2020
Why do you keep editing me? I can hardly say anything w/o an edit!!!! Report
KHALIA2 1/29/2020
Great Advice! Thanks for sharing this one!!!! Report
What an EYE-OPENER! Thank you! Report
Thank you so much for this list. This is info we all need to know if we are concerned about our health. Report
Oh my. Nothing to eat here... Report
It is annoying that not one of these things gives carbs. The reason that they are singling these out is the calories, but still for a keto diet these would make a perfect fat bomb meal if I am doing a One Meal A Day intermittent fasting. Of course I'd throw away the bun anyway but still. Honesty in advertising! Report
I live in Canada so the only one's here are IHOP & Quiznos. Subway has a list of 5-6 low fat subs, they also sell soups now. I go to Tim Horton's for there soups, they are low calorie and healthy.. Report
There was a lot to learn here. Most were not surprises, but a few were real eye openers Report
The chicken nachos were a surprise to me, and they would be the only thing on this list I would eat. Report
As a heart patient, I have to be careful of my sodium intake. I always ask the server which menu items are lower in salt and quite often they say that they can have an item prepared without any additional seasoning. Report
We do have an Applebee's and a TGIFriday's about 35 miles from here and several Quiznos but either have never been or choose not to go to them. I do go to IHOP occasionally but never order pancakes, just basic 1 egg breakfast. If I eat out I try to stick to basic meat & veggies and any sauce is on the side so I can control the amt, same with salad dressing. One thing that help for me is that I'm allergic to uncultured milk products so no milk/shakes, ice cream, or cream sauces etc. Report
The ones that shocked me originally when I started tracking are the salads...Applebees Grilled Chicken Oriental Salad with 1290 calories and 81 grams of fat is a perfect example of a good idea gone wrong! Report
I find it interesting and sad that several comments that were posted from individuals living outside of the US have never heard of these kinds of foods. Why is it the US has such a hard time serving 'real' food like the rest of the world? It almost seems like we go out of our way to come up with the most unhealthy combinations. Report
Started with Applebee's because they had point dinners for weight watchers and go to Chilis a lot due to the fried jalapenos and have tried some of the new items. Shocked to see how high they are even if we share. What can I eat there that is not a vegetable and filling. Report
I have learned that if you know you are going out to eat and the restaurant has a nutrition value on the web, plan what you are going to eat before you go. I am going to TGI Friday's tomorrow and I have picked out what I am going to order....Good luck everyone! Report
The healthy alternative link in the Culver's paragraph doesn't work. Report
I ate at Chili's yesterday and to celebrate just went ahead and ordered what I want. Had the Quesadilla Explosion Salad and am so very sure it was a calorie explosion. It was delicious and I enjoyed every bite. But now, back to being careful. Report
I'm not shocked by the calorie and nutritional value in these items. I do know from traveling you can chose the wrong type of foods no matter where you live. But I do think the good old USA has some of the worst food choices . But it is a choice. A choice you make. Most of these foods turn me off, but if I was too indulge in any or ones similar, I would either half it or share. Have found out in the last few years of this never ending journey I have to find balance in what I chose to eat. Report
Oh this is so sad -- I want those Applebees Pub Pretzels !! Report
I'd rather just eat a luscious fruitcake than any of that stuff... Report
How about those burgers at Red Robin that put fried onion rings ON the burger AND serve fries on the side? Report
Alot of people are shocked and say they don't like any of these items but I do recognize the Whataburger BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich. I adored this sandwich. It used to be sold once a year but was put on their full time menu. I haven't had one since starting my diet and won't say I will never eat one again but will do so very infrequently and with the knowledge of what it "costs" me in the calorie department. I may never be able to eat it again. I am not shocked at the calorie content, but I was pretty blind to those things when I was eating it because it didn't matter to me then. It does matter now.
So good to see the calories! I am asking about calories more and more when we go out. Good Culture shock! Report
I'm shocked! People eat something like that?
I've never seen this food. This is amazing!
In Poland we have other food. The most popular fast food is a kebab, but McDonalds and KFC as well.
I wondered if they serve food, such as the pictures ... Report
This is no surprise at all. Chain restaurants are the WORST - I don't know why anyone would ever eat at one. Folks should be eating at small, mom-and-pop or family-owned restaurants. That's where you'll get real, good food. Report
I'm pretty sure I heard something in casual conversation about a local franchise of a national chain that was experimenting with an ice cream sundae that (somehow) incorporated bacon. I may be remembering a bad dream, of course, but if this actually happened we'd all be having nightmares after downing one of those babies. Report
I live in Australia and none of these items are available here and I wouldn't dream of buying them anyway. Report
Sure glad I don't have most of these restaurants in my town! It is amazing how many calories these have in them. I steer clear of these types of foods when we go out to eat. I like the broiled to grilled foods the best! Report
I live in Canada and I don't recognize any of these dishes. Thank God. In fact, none even look that appetizing to me. :(
It is a good list ~ Did anyone proofread this? Because several have double fat gram counts!!! And where are the CARB gram counts?

Everyone just verify with the restaurants menu nutrition facts on their site. I have my Chilis favs even the Presidente in my food tracker.

My BFF & I usually split an entree, an apetizer and a desert that is if we have a coupon for one of them free when we do lunch at Chilis!

The Sedona Black Bean burger has left me shocked.. and angry! I usually check before I eat out, but the one time I don't...So mad! Report
This is a scary list. Totally surprised at a couple of them. Thanks for a real eye opener. Report
Wow great list - no wonder why Culvers named that mixture Concrete ! lol - I rarely eat out any more if I do I dine at a Specialty restaurant downtown and really read the entire menu - Thanks for the information will forward to a few people I know that travel . Report
It is ridiculous how much sodium, fat, and calories are in these "meals". And a whole day's worth of calories in a frozen ice cream treat? Outrageous! So glad I never eat out anywhere. Wouldn't have reached my goals if I did.

cj Report
As a heart patient, I have to be careful of my sodium intake. I always ask the server which menu items are lower in salt and quite often they say that they can have an item prepared without any additional seasoning. Report
I am doing good for never went to those places to eat good subject thanks Report
Some lifestyles include eating out, sometimes as a necessity. Good to have this sort of information for those times. Report
It's amazing that the "citrus grilled chicken sandwich" from Friendly's, described above, has so many calories!! Yet another great example of why you always need to find out the nutrition info and watch those full-fat sauces. Thanks for this great article! Some of the other things I have noticed are "salads" that are covered with dressing, fried meat, croutons, cheese....sometimes the salads have more calories than a burger on the same menu! :) Report
Anything we decide to eat out in a restaurant is going to be loaded with sodium. Totally drenched and soaked in your daily allowance or more of sodium. Let's all learn to cook more! Report
I try to check the nutritional content before I eat out.. There always seems to be some hidden dangers in foods from restaurants. Too much fat and calories in a lot of foods that seem healthy. Report