How The Restaurant Industry Is Killing Us

For the most part, my treats are frozen yogurt. Recently, however, I ended up at Ben and Jerry’s with a friend. They were out of the fudge brownie frozen yogurt— my fallback whenever I’m there—so I decided to give the new Hazed and Confused flavor a try. I’m at goal weight, so indulging in an occasional kiddie cup of real ice cream is something I’m working on allowing myself to do. A kiddie cup is pretty harmless, right? It’s only three ounces. Except three tiny ounces of that flavor is 190 calories, 12 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar, all for a serving smaller than the size of my palm.

Some people would say, “You were out with a friend. Don’t worry about it. Treat yourself.” But I taught myself long ago to not use food as a reward. That tiny splurge ate me into a caloric deficit I hadn’t planned on, and I had to work it off, the same way I’d have to put money back into my bank account if I splurged on a manicure. As I was pedaling away on my spin bike, I started thinking about the other things I used to eat when I was obese, and after I worked out, I started researching.

Ben and Jerry’s:
1 chocolate-dipped waffle cone filled with chocolate fudge brownie ice cream Cone: 300 calories.
Ice cream: 810 calories (270 calories per scoop, about 3 scoops in a waffle cone).
Total: 1110 calories

Burger King/McDonalds/ Dunkin Donuts:
1 Whopper: 650 calories
1 Super sized fries: 610 calories
3 donuts: 800 calories
Total: 2060 calories.

Boston Market:
1 chicken carver sandwich
1 large mac and cheese
1 small mashed potato
2 chocolate chip cookies
Total: 1190 calories.

To this day I can’t believe what I was consuming. My Ben & Jerry’s treat was more than twice the calories I’ll eat today in a single meal. And I would eat this often, without even thinking. Is it any wonder that I used to be obese? That such a large part of the nation is obese? It makes me want to go to these restaurant executives, shake them and say, “What are you doing? Don’t you see there’s an obesity epidemic? You’re killing us!”

We are making progress. Places like The Olive Garden are making the effort to have healthier options. As it says on their site, “Choice is always on the menu. We’re all more conscious of the need to have healthy options for our families and ourselves.” They even have a “lighter fare” menu with “smart dining options.” Yet they still serve the Grilled Chicken with Roasted Garlic Alfredo for 1610 calories. An appetizer portion of the Lasagna Fritta is 1070 calories. The Tour of Italy entrée is 1500 calories.

The Cheesecake Factory offers their “Skinnylicious” menu, yet they still offer appetizers with a caloric total of over 3000 calories (The Factory Apetizer favorites, in case you were wondering.) Looking through their menu is terrifying. The Healthy Eating Guide actually has a great breakdown on exactly how bad for you that restaurant can be.

My point? Restaurants shouldn’t be allowed to create meals this unhealthy. It should be illegal. I know that people are allowed to make choices, but we have warning packages on cigarettes. Why not on food? I live in a town where chains are obligated to post their nutritional information on the menus, and I know it’s made me make better choices. Maybe if we all start making these choices, the restaurant industry will be forced to make a change.

What about you? Would you make better choices if the nutritional value of food was listed on the menu? Are there some things you’ve been eating that you’re not anymore after seeing just how bad for you they are? Let us know in the comments!

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