Going out to dinner is the perfect time and place to have a "cheat meal," or splurge on something a little more indulgent. But even if you're going balls-to-the-wall YOLO with your order, you probably don't expect the single meal to rack up an entire day's worth of calories.
Unfortunately, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has just released its annual Xtreme Eating list, featuring the worst meals you could eat at chain restaurants across the country, and they found that there are several that fit this criteria—and you probably wouldn't think twice about ordering them. The even scarier part? If a restaurant is lax enough with the nutritional profile of their food to serve such calorie-dense meals, there are probably several more options lurking on the menu too.
The worst offender can be found at Maggiano's Little Italy. Their "Marco's Meal for Two" includes an appetizer, two pasta dishes, and dessert, plus two more pastas to take home. The numbers: Up to 2,840 calories a person, plus 79 grams of saturated fat, 6,390 milligrams of sodium, and 11 teaspoons of sugar. And that's not including the pastas you take home.
Ok, ok, so maybe you're expecting that from a three-course Italian meal. But would you expect that at brunch? At The Cheesecake Factory (which is often included in lists of worst restaurants for healthy eating), the Fried Chicken and Waffles Benedict with a side of breakfast potatoes has a whopping 2,580 calories, 86 grams of saturated fat, 3,390 milligrams of sodium, and 15 teaspoons of sugar all on its own. And that's not even including the bloody Mary or mimosa that you might sip alongside.
Alright, so let's say you opt for a healthy option like a salad or some lean protein and veggies, then save your splurge for dessert. Might be the safest route, right? Think again. Order the Dessert Nachos at Buffalo Wild Wings and you're looking at 2,100 calories, 64 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of trans fat, and 30 teaspoons of sugar.
These restaurants aren't the only culprits, either. Stop by an Applebee's and the New England Fish and Chips will run you 2,010 calories and 138g of fat—that's about two days worth of fat in one meal. At Chili's, a Quesadilla Explosion Salad with dressing will cost about 1,860 calories. And at Olive Garden, ordering the Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara will tally 1,590 calories and 114 grams of fat—and that doesn't even begin to include the unlimited salad and bread sticks that you know you can't resist.
The only time I don't feel guilty eating a huge plate of pasta is when 19 other people are doing the same. Thanks @olivegarden for taking such good care of us tonight. #olivegarden #chickenandshrimpcarbonara #helloyummy #fivebaseballfamilies #somuchfun #blazebaseball #thanksbrenda #andjay #youwerethebest #servicewasA+ #fivestars
Don't get us wrong: We are all for a life of ~balance~. (Read: Working out, eating our kale, and enjoying a glass of red and a burger when we want it.) Plus, it's actually healthy to have "cheat meals." You just need to know how often and how much to indulge. But these restaurants' meals are a straight-up scary level of unhealthy. So in the case of these diet-ruiners: Steer clear, split it, or swap sides to make it a healthier option. (We have your guide on How to Eat Out the Healthy Way right here.)