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More than a decade ago, Eat This, Not That! helped create a healthier food revolution. Back then, it was pretty difficult to find the calorie counts of your favorite restaurant orders. But when we started posting about what was really in some these meals, we started to see some major changes at a lot of restaurants.
Now, many places post nutritional information on their menus and online and it's not uncommon to find a designated section of the menu highlighting items under 600 calories.
While we may be more health conscious now, there’s still a lot of confusion about what’s actually healthy. So, Eat This, Not That! is back to do it all again.
My new Eat This, Not That! book reveals thousands of popular and seemingly healthy foods that have shocking amounts of fat, sugar, salt and calories — often more than a day’s worth. But if you know what to choose in every situation, you can still lose 10, 20, or even 30 pounds without dieting while still enjoying lighter versions of some of your favorite foods.
We hand picked the most shocking orders at national chain restaurants for every meal of the day — from breakfast to dessert — and we found the healthier swaps you can order instead. Saving 300 calories each day may result in more than a half pound loss in just one week and making these swaps is a simple way to cut calories while still dining out.
Denny's Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast with two pancakes, two sunny-side up eggs, hash browns and two bacon strips
Nutrition: 1,800 calories, 70 grams of fat (24 grams of saturated fat), 2,670 milligrams sodium, 263 grams of carbs (5 grams of fiber, 186 grams of sugar), 30 grams of protein
INSANE EQUIVALENT: As many calories as 9 Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts
If you want to eat a cinnamon roll for breakfast, just do that. Ordering this cinnamon roll-inspired breakfast from Denny's isn't just as unhealthy as eating one Cinnabon cinnamon roll — it's three times as unhealthy. And that only covers the sugar. With the additional sides of fried eggs, hash browns and bacon, you're also looking at taking down as much sodium as a family-sized bag of pretzels.
If you still want a little taste of everything (because who doesn't?) then your best bet is to opt for Denny's Build Your Own Grand Slam. This plate delivers sweet, salty and savory flavors all in one meal ... without blowing up your calorie count. You'll save 165 grams of sugar by opting for this order over the Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast.
EAT THIS BREAKFAST
Build Your Own Grand Slam with two hearty wheat pancakes, two turkey bacon strips and two eggs cooked over easy
Nutrition: 650 calories, 30.5 grams of fat (9 grams of saturated fat), 1,410 milligrams sodium, 70 grams of carbs (5 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar), 27 grams of protein
YOU SAVE: 1,150 calories
Nutrition: 1,700 calories, 112 grams of fat (64 grams saturated fat, 3.5 grams trans fat), 2,270 milligrams sodium, 113 grams carbs (7 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar), 60 grams of protein
INSANE EQUIVALENT: More calories than 3 McDonald's Big Macs
We get it, that creamy bowl of pasta is calling your name at The Cheesecake Factory, but let's take a step back and consider just what goes into this bowl of carbs. We're not just talking about the butter and cream in the Alfredo sauce. You could enjoy this oversized bowl of pasta or three servings of McDonald's most popular burger.
Instead, go for the gluten-free soft chicken tacos. You could eat three orders of this healthier dish and still not consume the same number of calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium as the pasta dish. You'll get a good source of protein and, best of all, a serving of vegetables.
EAT THIS LUNCH
Nutrition: 510 calories, 15 grams of fat (3.5 grams of saturated fat), 830 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbs (12 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar), 32 grams of protein.
YOU SAVE: 1,190 calories
Nutrition: 1,950 calories, 155 grams of fat (56 grams saturated fat, 7 grams trans fat), 3,840 milligrams sodium, 123 grams carbs (14 grams fiber, 18 grams of sugar), 18 grams of protein
INSANE EQUIVALENT: As much fat as 133 Chick-fil-A nuggets
This dish also has as much saturated fat as 11 slices of Dominos Hand-Tossed Pizza With Regular Cheese — that's the equivalent of a pie and a half!
When hunting for healthy appetizers at Outback Steakhouse, head to the sea rather than the fields. If you absolutely must have a fried appetizer, the Coconut Shrimp is a great alternative to the gargantuan Bloomin' Onion. You'll still get that crispy, greasy fix without exceeding your whole day's worth of calories, fat and sodium.
EAT THIS APPETIZER
Outback's Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp (small size)
Nutrition: 360 calories, 17 grams of fat (9 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram trans fat), 650 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbs (21 grams of sugar), 12 grams of protein
YOU SAVE: 1,590 calories
Nutrition: 1,520 calories, 39 grams of fat (6 grams saturated fat), 6,970 milligrams sodium, 230 grams of carbs (13 grams of fiber, 44 grams of sugar), 73 grams of protein
INSANE EQUIVALENT: As much sodium as 15 small bags of Rold Gold Pretzels
If you're looking for an Asian-inspired meal at this fast-casual chain, swim up river and grab the salmon instead of the shrimp noodles.
Even though the restaurant's glazed salmon is still 900 calories, there are added benefits to choosing this meal. Salmon is a top source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids: a heart-protective type of fat that most of us don't get enough of. Plus, making this swap will save you the sodium equivalent of 10 bags of pretzels.
EAT THIS DINNER
Nutrition: 900 calories, 36 grams of fat (6 grams saturated fat), 2,390 milligrams sodium, 107 grams of carbs (7 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar), 41 grams of protein
YOU SAVE: 620 calories
Nutrition: 1,700 calories, 71 grams of fat (30 grams of saturated fat), 1,410 milligrams of sodium, 259 grams of carbs (14 grams of fiber, 190 grams of sugar), 17 grams of protein
INSANE EQUIVALENT: As much sugar as an entire carton of Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream
If there's one wall that needs to be taken down, it's P.F. Chang's Great Wall of Chocolate. One slice of this monstrous cake contains about seven times the sugar content than the lowest-sugar dessert on the restaurant's menu.
For some perspective, the Vietnamese Chocolate Lava Cake, which contains 70 grams of sugar, still has 120 grams less sugar than the Great Wall of Chocolate (and fewer than half the calories). However, both dishes far exceed the recommended average of 25 grams of sugar for women or 35 grams of sugar for men set by the American Heart Association.
EAT THIS DESSERT
Nutrition: 800 calories, 49 grams of fat (27 grams saturated fat), 340 milligrams sodium, 88 grams of carbs (5 grams of fiber, 70 grams of sugar), 12 grams of protein
YOU SAVE: 900 calories