The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a non-profit watchdog group providing advice and advocacy toward a healthier food system. Each year they publish the Xtreme Eating Awards, highlighting popular restaurant meals that top the scales on calories, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium. The 2018 version was just published.
They list many meals that contain more than a day’s worth of energy or nutrients as well as drinks and snacks. These between meal foods are even more dangerous as they tend to be added on top of our usual intake.
Xtreme Eating Award Winners:
For meals, The Cheesecake Factory is a common offender with entrees like their breakfast burrito- which sounds moderate enough, but it’s filled with chorizo, sour cream, cheese, bacon, fried potatoes providing 2,700 calories, 73g saturated fat, and 4,630 mg sodium.
Snacks like the soft pretzel with nacho cheese and mustard from AMC theater clocks in at 1920 calories, 15g saturated fat, and 7600mg sodium.
And we’re back at The Cheesecake Factory for some liquid calories (990 of them) in the Flying Gorilla – a banana-chocolate cocktail milkshake. This 2017 prize winner also has 60g of added sugar and 26g of saturated fat.
Why this matters
We eat out often. According to Neilsen, Americans now spend more of their food money on meals away from home. A Gallup Poll from 2017 reported that 60% of respondents ate dinner out at least once a week.
Our perceptions of what appropriate portions is changed by experience. That is, the more we eat oversized restaurant meals, the more our brain, metabolism, and digestive system expect these quantities of food.
Eating excessive meals makes it harder to stick to appropriate portion sizes and feel satisfied eating the amount we actually need to stay nourished.
Tips for Eating Out
- Share your entree and dessert.
- Pack up 1/2 your meal before you start eating.
- Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
- Order appetizers as entrees or order a kids meal.
- Make eating out a treat, do it less often.
- Avoid the pre-meal bread basket and drinks with calories.
- Don’t show up extremely hungry.
- Plan ahead, pick out what you want to eat before you arrive.
Find more eating out tips here.