Eat This, Not That: Healthy foods that really aren't

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By Dave Zinczenko, Men's Health

By Dave Zinczenko

Men's Health

People tend to underestimate the calories in food, and that’s especially true when the foods sound healthy. For instance, researchers at Cornell found that when you tell someone a food is organic, they guess it to have 40 percent fewer calories.

Food marketers use this trick all the time—they take low-cost, high-calorie ingredients, package them in a way that appears healthy, and then sell them to health-conscious consumers. So while you might think you’re eating something healthy, you’re actually sabotaging your odds of slimming down. To show you just how many extra calories these faux “health” foods can contain, I’ve uncovered four of the most devious dishes in the country, courtesy of the brand new Eat This, Not That! 2013.


Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Rollup with steamed vegetables

1,240 calories

62 g fat (11 g saturated)

1,680 mg sodium

CALORIE EQUIVALENT: 9 Taco Bell Fresco Crunchy Tacos

Wraps have two problems: 1. They hold high-fat sauces better than sandwiches, and 2. The wrap itself is a blanket of carbohydrates. This wrap has 125 grams. That’s 500 calories of pure carbohydrates, and that’s on top of the fat from fried chicken, almonds, and oily dressing. Applebee’s offers a remarkable—albeit salty—reduced-calorie menu. Take advantage of it.

Eat This Instead!

Applebee’s Creamy Parmesan Chicken

470 calories

13 g fat (6 g saturated)

1,510 mg sodium


California Pizza Kitchen Asparagus + Spinach Spaghettini with Grilled Chicken Breast

1,340 calories

60 g fat (12 g saturated)

1,629 mg sodium

CALORIE EQUIVALENT: 40 Cheese Pizza Rolls!

Oh, the wasted potential! This pasta is studded with asparagus and spinach, and tossed in a raw tomato sauce. The problem is, each bowl contains 120 grams of carbohydrates, presumably all fettuccine-based. Fortunately, CPK just released a new, lighter line-up that includes this far-more-reasonable fettuccine. The nutritional heft of zucchini partners with the lean protein of shrimp, resulting in one of the best pasta dishes you’ll find at a restaurant.

Eat This Instead!

CPK Shrimp Scampi Zucchini Fettuccine

550 calories

27 g fat (11 g saturated)

757 mg sodium

 CARB CRAZY: If you think these nefarious noodles are bad, check which 2,700-calorie bowl topped our list of The 7 Worst Pasta Dishes in America!


IHOP Chicken & Spinach Salad

1,530 calories

111 g fat (30 g saturated, 2 g trans)

2,400 mg sodium


Spinach and chicken are great for you, sure. But batter and fry the chicken and drench the greens with bacon, cheese, egg, and honey mustard, and you’ll end up with this, a salad worse than any burger-and-fries combo on the menu. Order the Balsamic-Glazed Chicken instead and you’ll take in the same amount of fiber, but about 80 percent less fat.

Eat This Instead!

IHOP Simple & Fit Grilled Balsamic-Glazed Chicken

440 calories

22 g fat (3.5 g saturated)

940 mg sodium

FIGHT FAT WITH FAT! Not all fat is bad for you. In fact, some types can help you lose weight. Don’t believe it? Add these 5 Fatty Foods that Make You Skinnyto your diet and watch the flab fall away.


Cheesecake Factory Grilled Chicken and Avocado Club

1,560 calories

26 g saturated fat

1,927 mg sodium

CALORIE EQUIVALENT: 52 cups of Buttered Popcorn!

Most of these sandwich toppings—avocado, bacon, and Swiss cheese—are perfectly healthy in moderation. But pile them on like the Cheesecake Factory does, and their calories will ratchet up quickly, especially when you add an herb mayo to the mix. The Factory now has Skinnylicious menu options to choose from, but if you want to order off the classic menu, your best bet is the chain’s Factory Burger.

Eat This Instead!

Cheesecake Factory Factory Burger

780 calories

15 g saturated fat

1,157 mg sodium

Lose 3 Pounds in 6 Meals!

More links from Men's Health:

10 Restaurant Desserts Under 400 Calories  

8 Ingredients You Never Want to See on Your Nutrition Label  

The Worst Foods in America: 2013  

The Best and Worst French Fries in America

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