The 30 Worst Fast-Food Restaurant Choices
Why Eating Out Is Making You Fat
In recent years, American restaurants have been piling layers of fat, salt, and sugar on their creations -- all of which tricks our brain into craving more food, says former FDA commissioner David Kessler, MD, in his book The End of Overeating. "Even lettuce has become a vehicle for fat," he says, citing the cream-based dressings, cheese chunks, bacon bits, and oil-soaked croutons that turn many restaurant salads into health hazards.
If you're watching your calories -- or your life expectancy -- there are a few fast rules to follow if you eat out at a popular restaurant chain:
- Avoid anything with the word "sampler" or "platter," unless you plan to share it with three or more people and make it your main course.
- Skip anything that comes in an edible bowl or includes the words stacked, stuffed, double, triple, slammed, or dunked.
- Nachos are something best shared with a group, and subs are something best measured in calories, fat, and sodium -- not inches.
- When you see the words crispy or glazed, realize that's what will happen to your arteries and your eyes, respectively, if you consume too many of these items.
- Dressing and sauces are among the major calorie culprits of many restaurant choices, sometimes doubling the fat and sodium content of an entree. Ask for all sauces on the side, and try replacing cream-based dressings with mustard (straight mustard, not sugar-loaded honey mustard), suggests New York City-based nutritionist Sharon Richter, MS, RD. Other good alternatives: lemon and grated cheese (25 calories per tablespoon).
- Just because an item falls under the word "appetizers" does not mean it should be followed by more food. Not even in the same day. Some of the country's most ubiquitous food establishments serve appetizers that would stuff a Sumo wrestler.
And remember, the average woman needs 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day to maintain weight (depending upon activity level and frequency), and the American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary fat to 30 percent of total calories.
Armed with these basic tenets, prepare yourself as we unveil some surprising calorie bombs -- and the choices you can make to avoid them.
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