"OVER A POUND OF MEAT. Extra napkins free!”
August 5, 2016 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Xtreme Eating Awards 2016 If you're thinking of giving yourself heart disease this weekend, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has compiled this handy list of highly salted and calorific dishes available in many great restaurants across the U.S.
posted by 1head2arms2legs (49 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I once ate a pound of barbecue and a side of hush puppies on a train over the course of 30 minutes, each time taking a bite and putting the bag away convincing myself that I was saving the rest for later. I didn't even really feel like I'd had a meal.

I'm not super impressed by OVER A POUND OF MEAT is what I'm saying Pizzeria Uno. Also bacon, prosciutto and pepperoni on one sandwich sounds just stupidly salty.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:28 PM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Spinach & Artichoke Dip. With tortilla chips, it rings up 960 calories (plus 14 grams of sat fat and 3,980 mg of sodium).

It sounds healthy though. Spinach. Artichokes. How can it possibly be bad for us?

Good lord, the salt content is off the charts.
posted by zarq at 2:36 PM on August 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Just to harp on this for a moment... Recommended daily salt intake for Americans is 2300 mg. Recommendation for anyone at risk of heart disease is no more than 1500 mg daily. Nearly 50% of all Americans have at least one of three risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. So for half the country, that's nearly three times the recommended daily dose of salt. And nearly double the amount for everyone else.
posted by zarq at 2:40 PM on August 5, 2016


I'm pretty sure that if you walk into the Cheesecake Factory under your own power you forfeit all right to look surprised.
posted by delfin at 2:56 PM on August 5, 2016 [18 favorites]


It's not America until you've pureed a KFC Double Down and poured it into a 1800 calorie milkshake.
posted by thewalrus at 3:29 PM on August 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Along with butter, salt seems to be joining the lengthening list of things we were all exited about, but that may not be so bad after all:
May 21, 2016

A large worldwide study has found that, contrary to popular thought, low-salt diets may not be beneficial and may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death compared to average salt consumption.

In fact, the study suggests that the only people who need to worry about reducing sodium in their diet are those with hypertension (high blood pressure) and have high salt consumption.

The study, involving more than 130,000 people from 49 countries, was led by investigators of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

They looked specifically at whether the relationship between sodium (salt) intake and death, heart disease and stroke differs in people with high blood pressure compared to those with normal blood pressure.

The researchers showed that regardless of whether people have high blood pressure, low-sodium intake is associated with more heart attacks, strokes, and deaths compared to average intake. . . .
posted by jamjam at 3:34 PM on August 5, 2016 [20 favorites]


You know, there's a class angle on this - I don't know anyone who goes to any of those restaurants except people in my parents' town, and that's because I know mostly college-educated city-dwellers. (At this point, Red Lobster is the nicest restaurant in my parents' town - and to be fair, it's a very well-run Red Lobster where everything is always cooked/reheated/fried perfectly, the steamed vegetables are crisp and not mushy, etc. If you're going to Red Lobster, that's the one to go to.) We're none of us rich, but we don't generally eat chain food because we have lots of options.

But does that mean our restaurant choices are awesomely healthy? Yes and no, I guess. I don't go out to eat that much personally, but when I do stop at the Szechuan place or go for dim sum, it's a calorific, salty feast. And I have many friends who go to artsy bars and eat ridiculous artisanal bar food - ironic tater tot poutine isn't very good for you.

I feel like a lot of the problem is just too much restaurant eating. It wouldn't really matter if you ate one of those entire pasta/appetizer/dessert things if it was something you got two or three times a year, and even a small restaurant meal on a daily basis isn't very good for you.
posted by Frowner at 3:48 PM on August 5, 2016 [21 favorites]


I just find the way it's written to be so cutesy and gross. Nacho No-No? How about a nice plate of asparafuck you.
posted by Itaxpica at 4:06 PM on August 5, 2016 [57 favorites]


jamjam: the weird thing is that almost the same articles were written in the late 80s and early 90s when the first wave of large, well-run studies showed little to no benefit from the official guidelines for most people. Every 5 or so years, another study or review with the same conclusion shows up, we'll see a few articles calling for an end to the war on salt, and … not much seems to happen.
posted by adamsc at 4:11 PM on August 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


My family often camps at Higgins Lake State Park in Michigan, and a few years ago my wife and sister each got what was called a "Walkin' Taco" for lunch from the stand just outside the gates that sold ice cream, hot dogs and whatnot. IIRC it was a tray with a bed of fritos covered in "cheese," salsa, ground beef and sour cream. An hour or so after they finished they both fell asleep for like two hours (my wife almost never naps) and when they woke up they each guzzled as much water as they could stand to drink. Lord only knows how much fat and sodium those monstrosities contained, but they joke about it being a near-death experience.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:12 PM on August 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


asparafuck you

I... would totally eat that. Not sure what that says about me.
posted by skycrashesdown at 4:53 PM on August 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


Most of those just struck me as large portions of heavy food, yeah whatever marketing, (and some meant to be eaten by groups or couples--and over the space of more than one meal at that) but reading about that Candy Crush slush literally made my eye twitch.
posted by sourwookie at 4:54 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Frowner makes a good point about this. I eat out a lot and enjoy it -- it's a wonderful pleasure -- but I'm not thinking that the totchos (you know, nachos made with tater tots) at my favorite bar are somehow "healthy" just because they're coming from a non-chain. Or that meal I had at our favorite family-style Italian place on Wednesday? Also, no, that wasn't good for me either (although that was two portions for me).

I assume and I hope that most people aren't eating these things every day. And I also think several of these (the Applebee's appetizers, the Jersey Mike's sub, the dessert nachos) aren't meant to be eaten by one person (at least not in one sitting) or are meant to be shared.

I think being aware of what you're eating is a good thing. But I do feel like there's a lot of weird "you are bad person for eating this" involved here. And I think that's kind of gross.
posted by darksong at 5:05 PM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


They gave me a 6 oz free sample of the candy crush slush and it was so sickening it might be the only free food I wouldn't actually eat.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:08 PM on August 5, 2016


Hold on - waffles covered in poached eggs, fried chicken. Hollandaise and maple butter sauce is highly caloric? I'm shocked.
posted by JPD at 6:06 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah yes, the Center for Science in the Public Interest - the people who pressured McDonald's, KFC and other fast-food outlets to SWITCH TO TRANS FATS in the 1980s because they were supposedly healthier.

When your health advocacy group single-handedly does that much damage to public health, maybe you should look for a new line of work.
posted by Umami Dearest at 6:22 PM on August 5, 2016 [20 favorites]


i know i eat like shit, it gives me pleasure, fuck off health puritans.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:07 PM on August 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


asparafuck you

I... would totally eat that. Not sure what that says about me.


Oh man wait I take that back asparago fuck yourself would have been way better.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:20 PM on August 5, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'm just kind of thrown by the survival tips section at the end. The whole thing is just so, so mean-spirited from start to finish that you'd think they don't actually expect anyone reading this to actually, seriously, go to any of these restaurants. But here's some helpful tips if you are ever kidnapped and forced to go to Cheesecake Factory! Or whatever...The bit about the couple shuffling out of the restaurant after their date at Maggiano's. Shuffling?!?...what the hell. I don't know why they thought this was okay.
posted by eeek at 8:32 PM on August 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


These people really hate white flour, huh?
posted by lollusc at 8:36 PM on August 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


These people really hate white flour, huh?

Yeah. You could almost picture them reflexively spitting at the ground each time they mentioned it, like some old lady from a Ural village every time she mentions some local noble who screwed over her ancestors a hundred years prior.
posted by sourwookie at 9:01 PM on August 5, 2016 [22 favorites]


Interesting set of responses. I don't live in the U.S., so am unlikely to ever eat in any of these restaurants. Nor am I ever likely to call a main course an "entree".
Some have commented on the intentions and tone of the piece. I think it's useful to point out some of the excesses encountered on many menus (high end and hipster restaurants also culpable, though more difficult to put on this kind of list). Bad health is unpleasant to experience, and it doesn't necessarily make you puritanical or judgemental to suggest ways to avoid it.
posted by 1head2arms2legs at 11:24 PM on August 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I read this as written for people who already self-identify as non-chain eaters, and the cutesy stuff is meant to make them feel good.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:41 PM on August 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Along with butter, salt seems to be joining the lengthening list of things we were all exited about, but that may not be so bad after all:

Yep! Pretty much you want to balance out your sodium with potassium... that's how your cells keep an electrical charge, and how they keep pumping water and goop in and out. The problem is, sodium is easy to come by these days, and potassium is not quite as easy (eat your banana for breakfast!), and that mineral balance gets all tilty. The last couple of USDA dietary guidelines have recognized this, and adjusted the advice accordingly.
posted by notyou at 1:06 AM on August 6, 2016


I assume and I hope that most people aren't eating these things every day. And I also think several of these (the Applebee's appetizers, the Jersey Mike's sub, the dessert nachos) aren't meant to be eaten by one person (at least not in one sitting) or are meant to be shared.


I... don't think those are entirely safe assumptions. And they did divide up the Applebees appetizers. But yes lots of restaurant food is equally ridiculous and if it's not a chain you won't even get the numbers (I probably ate 1500 calories of pizza tonight).
posted by atoxyl at 1:35 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


What's the deal with white flour ?

Admittedly, my idea of healthy eating is not poking your eye out with a fork, but they keep repeating it (whiteflour!) like it was strychnine.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:36 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


ironic tater tot poutine isn't very good for you.

Studies have shown that, if you eat your food ironically, your body only takes in about half the salt, fat, and sugar. Strange, but true!*

* for values of "true" that extend to "false." Cake eaten on your birthday, however, has no calories; that's science. Newton proved it by stuffing frosting under his eyeball or some other gross thing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:02 AM on August 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


What's the deal with white flour ?

Probably Germans obsessed with inspecting their stools. If it's not a floater, you haven't been eating as much roughage as you oughta.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:01 AM on August 6, 2016


this handy list of highly salted and calorific dishes available in many great restaurants across the U.S.

hmm this sounds like it could be fun!

http://cspinet.org

huh, haven't heard of that one before...

Center for Science in the Public Interest

uh oh, we're about to get scolded, aren't we?

"It’s not like America has a weight problem or anything. Nah."

Yup!
posted by indubitable at 5:18 AM on August 6, 2016


The whole air I get from this article is that the Center for Science in the Public Interest is okay with me because I look visibly skinny and my pizza comes from a fancy neighborhood joint. I am not okay with this. Please don't hold me up as One of the Good Ones in your fat and poor people shaming.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:28 AM on August 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


The ironic tot poutine is bad for you too, but it probably wasn't engineered to convince your brain and mouth that it's okay to eat 15 gazillion calories at a sitting. There's a point where the ironic tot poutine will make you feel full, while the only thing the engineered Applebee's stuff will make you feel is shame.
posted by ftm at 7:48 AM on August 6, 2016


Potassium balance? Screw bananas, i just sprinkle everything with sylvite. Bitter, bitter sylvite.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 7:49 AM on August 6, 2016


...a few years ago my wife and sister each got what was called a "Walkin' Taco" for lunch from the stand just outside the gates that sold ice cream, hot dogs and whatnot. IIRC it was a tray with a bed of fritos covered in "cheese," salsa, ground beef and sour cream.

On a tray? That was not a true Walking Taco. To be a legit WT, all that cheese, beef and sour cream should have been dumped into an open individual-size bag of Fritos. See? So you can walk around and eat it.

Those things are almost required by law to be on the menu of damned near any school sporting event here in the midwest.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:55 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Frowner: You know, there's a class angle on this - I don't know anyone who goes to any of those restaurants except people in my parents' town, and that's because I know mostly college-educated city-dwellers.

Do you know anyone with kids? Or teenagers? Or college students? Or people in their 20's who live in urban areas?

I go to Applebee's and other chain restaurants with my family. Cheesecake Factory too. We don't go often, but they're convenient and have a large enough menu that the kids and we have some variety to choose from. We do order sensible meals and pay attention to sodium, fat and caloric content.

There may be a class element to their customers, but if so, I haven't seen one. Of course my experience may not be universal, but just because you don't personally know urban-dwelling, college educated people who eat at those restaurants doesn't mean we actively avoid them.
posted by zarq at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2016


Do you know anyone with kids? Or teenagers? Or college students? Or people in their 20's who live in urban areas?

I do, actually - maybe it's more of a subculture/class thing, but seriously, people in my social circles (including college students, including families with teens) don't go to chain restaurants when there's anything else available. Plenty of people go to cheap restaurants, including me, but going to a chain restaurant would require a trip to the outskirts of the city or downtown and just wouldn't make sense. It's much cheaper to get something at one of the Mexican places down the street or some greasy spoon Americanized Chinese food if money is a concern.

I mean, I'll be totally honest - every time I've eaten at one of those places, I've found the food...not bad per se, but nothing I'd seek out if I had an option. And as I say, my parents live in a small city in the lower midwest, so I do eat at these places from time to time. I know from experience that they can be very well-run and the food well-prepared and well-served. I've had good experiences at these restaurants, in the sense that I went to them with family, ate a reasonable meal and had a nice time because I was sharing a meal with family in a clean, pleasant space with good service. But I don't know very many people who live in the city and who have college degrees who voluntarily seek those restaurants out.

So yes, maybe "class" isn't the right word - but there's definitely a cultural thing that I was trying to get at - that this article heaps scorn on restaurants that are accessible and widespread and comparatively affordable while giving an implicit pass to non-chain unhealthy food that is more often available to richer, city-dwelling people, or even to people like me, who are not richer but who live in an urban area with a lot of small restaurants.

Or maybe we're using the term "urban area" differently? Or thinking of different cities? I've spent a little time in Indianapolis and Omaha, for example, and neither of those seem to have a dense an array of restaurants as MPLS even though they're fairly clearly cities. Or if I were to go out to a second or third ring suburb here, that would be an "urban area" in the sense that people would have very ready access to the city proper but they would be living in a very different built environment?

I will stand by the idea that chains of the Applebee's variety just don't have traction here, though.
posted by Frowner at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Obviously chain fast food is widely and readily available - it's the chain sorta-slow food that's not.
posted by Frowner at 10:04 AM on August 6, 2016


One more, sorry - considering the allergy post now on the blue and my mother's experience as her health deteriorated: I hadn't thought about how there's a lot of advantage to this kind of restaurant from an accessibility standpoint, since it has absolutely consistent supply chains and consistent design. My mother could eat at the local Red Lobster long after she couldn't manage anywhere smaller or darker - "quirky" design, arty lighting, small tables and limited space were all impossible for her to negotiate, as was anything cutesy in terms of plates or cups, but the spacious, standardized design of the Red Lobster was manageable.
posted by Frowner at 10:13 AM on August 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Late 20's city person here, and my experience is similar to Frowner's. The only time I have been to a sit-down chain recently was with a group of classmates who came primarily from the suburbs to my downtown commuter school. Among my usual peer group, (city and inner suburban dwellers from their early 20s to 40s of varying socioeconomic status, some with kids) we'll typically opt for cheap but local options. Burritos, Americanized Chinese food, and pizza of varying degrees of fanciness are common choices. Sit down chains are usually downtown or in the outer rings of the city; in the neighborhoods just outside the center it's easier and just as cheap (though generally not healthier) to go somewhere smaller.

Maybe it is sub cultural though. My one remaining friend in central NJ and her peers seem to go to chain places more often than I do. This is not a value judgment on them, just a reflection of the restaurant options they have.
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:26 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I didn't quite state this explicitly earlier but I think ultimately the reason they're going after chains here is that chains actually have nutrition info available. Somebody here actually once suggested that it's classist that chains and fast food are required to do this and I guess I'm reminded too much of that argument, with which I disagree entirely - I wish it were practical for every restaurant to do so but it makes sense to start with places that are "widespread and accessible." And, uh, obviously even if they did have scary numbers for your local place it wouldn't be nationally relevant.

I find the way this is actually written fairly insufferable, on the other hand.
posted by atoxyl at 11:19 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


What's the deal with white flour?

White flour is very easily digested and spikes your glucose faster than whole wheat flour. It also has little nutrition beyond vitamin enrichment in processing, and calories. Whole-wheat flour has much more fiber, protein, fat (I think? In the germ?), and naturally-occurring vitamins.

Really, you can make a case for both types of flour depending on what you're trying to do. For many people, whole-wheat flour is a better everyday choice than white flour. But these are restaurants, which are not an everyday thing (one hopes.) Whole-wheat flour is a bit of an acquired taste, too. White flour is a bit of a bugaboo with the CSPI people-- and this whole article reads like someone is channeling their ED voice, which is creepy and offputting and not a winning strategy in the longterm get-people-to-eat-mindfully stakes.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:43 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


> On a tray? That was not a true Walking Taco. To be a legit WT, all that cheese, beef and sour cream should have been dumped into an open individual-size bag of Fritos. See? So you can walk around and eat it.

Well, by tray I meant more of a plate, like fries are usually served in/on...so it was definitely a portable meal.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:45 PM on August 6, 2016


I think it is kind of a class thing, though. I've never seen them rail against high-end chains like Ruth's Chris Steak House or Mortons, even though a meal consisting of a 16-ounce ribeye with butter on top and a giant loaded baked potato and an iceberg wedge topped with bacon and blue cheese and a couple of martinis and half a bottle of wine would probably put up some truly scary fat/calorie/carb/sodium numbers.
posted by Daily Alice at 1:33 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


creepy and offputting and not a winning strategy in the longterm get-people-to-eat-mindfully stakes.

That's assuming that CSPI's goal is to encourage people to eat healthier meals. It seems more likely to me that CSPI's main goal is to get urban liberals to donate money to CSPI, in which case clickbait articles about Midwestern chain restaurant offerings are probably an effective strategy.
posted by Umami Dearest at 6:13 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Don't eat these on a daily basis and you'll be fine. Which of course implies their employees are in serious jeopardy, unfortunately.
posted by tommasz at 9:11 PM on August 6, 2016


Cake eaten on your birthday, however, has no calories; that's science. Newton proved it by stuffing frosting under his eyeball or some other gross thing.

Sadly Newton's research on birthday calories has failed replication by modern researchers, probably because of the confounder of his birthday also being Christmas.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 1:19 PM on August 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had 25 chipotle-soaked wings on Saturday night. I was also drunk and forgot to take my fiber supplement. Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor the next day, I can tell you.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:21 PM on August 7, 2016


I much prefer local joints to eat at, but you know what so many local places aren't? They aren't handicap accessible.

I know if we are in a new city, tired and just hungry, that my chair will make it into an Olive Garden or something similar and I won't have be disappointed, again.

In April, I called a restaurant in the closest city to us to confirm it was ADA compliant. "Yes, of course, we are, come on in."

We got there and there were steps into it. Now, this is my birthday, we've gone out of our way, I really want to try the place, but, nope, not going to happen.

I called them back and they said, "Well, we're ADA compliant on the inside." Because that helps when we can't get in the door.

Luckily, there was another restaurant there that I love that is ADA compliant, but had we been in another city? We would have gone to a damn chain because are reliably accessible and every chain I have been in is damn serious about allergies (which I have.)

(just a side note on why some of us end up at chains.)
posted by SuzySmith at 10:19 PM on August 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


the tone of that article made me so mad i'm going to go home after work and eat a plate of fresh mozzarella covered in pink salt

nb. i did this yesterday evening too and i wasn't even mad about anything
posted by burgerrr at 12:19 PM on August 8, 2016


Wait... Walking Tacos?!

How is one supposed to eat them? Hands? Isn't that terribly messy? Don't you need to find someplace to wash your hands afterwards or do people go about their post-lunch/snack business with sticky hands?
posted by porpoise at 4:17 PM on August 8, 2016


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