Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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I've held onto this information I found on menshealth.com for a long time, at first because I found it amusing, and then, because I realized that it's worth sharing. Because, face it: though we all might strive to eat healthy foods and think we can estimate their caloric/healthy value, we underestimate the counts many times.
And even though many restaurants and fast-food joints might attempt to cut down on the dangerous stuff like trans fats and salt, they're still in the business of selling food—and catering to the palates of many Americans. (And here's my personal wish to my sons and everyone else I love: If there's anything I urge you to read, it's this post. Please. I know you're old enough to make your own decisions…but please consider this a gift from me. A gift that I hope you'll use.)
Last March, a health law was signed in New York requiring most chain restaurants to print calorie information on the foods they serve. You'd think that would stop some people from ordering certain foods, no? But a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity says there was little difference. Granted, they studied low-income, mostly minority parents and adolescents who regularly eat out at fast-food restaurants in New York City. That is a bit skewed, since it eliminates the people who may be avoiding the fast-food restaurants because of the new labeling law. But it's interesting to note that knowing how unhealthful the food was had little or no bearing on dining choices. Perhaps there needs to be more work on teaching the public just what this nutritional information actually means in terms of health.
Here are five of the unhealthiest foods from chain restaurants, according to menshealth.com. Beware. And don't say I didn't warn you.
Pizza: Worst Slice – Sbarro Stuffed Pepperoni
One slice comes in at 960 calories, with 42 grams (g) of fat and 3,200 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Horrific, no? If you're craving pizza, go for a slice of fresh tomato pizza. You'll be much better off, to say the least.
Vegetarian Sandwich – Blimpies 12-inch Special Vegetarian
A vegetarian sandwich conjures up images of health, doesn't it? Not this one. At 1,180 calories, 59 g of fat and over 3,000 mg of sodium (the equivalent to 2.5 bags of Fritos), this one is scary. It's topped with crushed Doritos, melted cheese and various sauces. To me, its name is an oxymoron and should be outlawed!
Fries – Five Guys Fries (Large)
You may think all fries are bad, but these really win the prize. Sure, the best thing is to skip the fries, but if you can't, at least share the order. It's loaded with calories (over 1,400), fat (71 g) and sodium (213 mg). And it comprises more than 75 percent of your day's calories.
Worst Chinese Entrée – P.F. Chang's Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo
This dish contains beef, pork, chicken and shrimp, so it sounds kind of OK, right? But when you look at the sodium count, which is almost 8,000 mg (yikes!) and realize that is as much salt as is in TWO full boxes of Ritz crackers, it gets kinda scary, especially when you consider all we should get is 1,500 mg of salt per day.
Worst Sandwich – Cheesecake Factory Grilled Shrimp & Bacon Club
Grilled shrimp can't be bad, right? Well, not if you eat it as grilled shrimp. But when it's topped with bacon and adorned with the "special sauce," that's where the trouble starts. It packs in 24 g of saturated fat and almost 2,000 calories. It's like going to Wendy's and eating seven junior cheeseburgers.
You might want to read: Ten Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating
Essential Facts You Need to Know About Salt
All About Good Nutrition
Curious to know what the other 15 worst chain restaurant foods are? Click here (at your own risk!)