It’s OK to treat yourself. It’s not OK to treat yourself badly.
Leave it to the Center for Science in the Public Interest to offer what it says are examples of the latter — in the form of pudgy little trophies.
Welcome, one and all, to the 2019 Xtreme Eating Awards.
On Monday, the center unveiled its annual list of chain eatery dishes that make “the usual 1,000-calorie restaurant fare look sensible” in terms of calories, fat, sugar and sodium.
They aren’t the worst dishes in America, said Lindsay Moyer, a senior nutritionist at the center. Rather, they are examples of how eating out has gotten out of control.
“The truth is that many Americans want to eat healthier, but these restaurant chains are making it tough,” she said.
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Even typical restaurant entrees can often have 1,000 calories, she said, “warping our perspective of what constitutes a normal serving.”
Busy lifestyles don’t help. According to Moyer, Americans now eat a third of their calories away from home.
“It’s not as if these restaurant chains haven’t heard about the obesity epidemic,” she said. “These dishes keep getting bigger and bigger.”
This year’s honorees include Sonic’s large Oreo Peanut Butter Master Shake (1,720 calories); The Cheesecake Factory’s Cinnamon Roll Pancakes (2,040 calories); and Chili’s The Boss Burger (2,020 calories).
And then there are Topgolf’s Injectable Donut Holes: 24 sugar-dusted, deep-fried guys served alongside syringes filled with chocolate, raspberry jam and Bavarian cream. Altogether, they hit about 1,970 calories over par, and they’re “like eating four Burger King double cheeseburgers, plus a large Coke,” Moyer said.
For the record, the recommended daily diet shouldn’t exceed 2,000 calories; 20 grams of saturated fat; 50 grams of added sugar; and 2,300 milligrams of sodium.
Isn’t it OK, though, to reach for that 16-inch sub on occasion?
“People can absolutely make their own decisions about what they want to order each time you walk into a restaurant,” Moyer said. “And a splurge is one thing, but restaurant chains in America are overfeeding us on a regular basis.”
One way for the healthy-conscious to … um … have their cake and eat it too is portion control: “Share a dish with a friend, or just take half home,” Moyer said.
And, read that menu. Calories are now listed for dishes at all chain restaurants with 20 locations or more.
It’s like they say: The numbers never lie … no matter how incredible they are.
Feast your eyes on the winners below.
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.