If you are consciously trying to make healthier food choices when dining out then you no doubt avoid restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and KFC, right? You do so because you know that the food choices available in these types of eating establishments do not represent “healthy” choices and you believe that other popular chains offer lower fat, lower calorie options; but is this a false belief?

The Unhealthy Truth Revealed

In 2013, the results of the Center for Science in the Public Domain’s Xtreme Eating Awards revealed a shocking truth: by avoiding what we believe to be the unhealthiest choices, many of us unwittingly make even unhealthier food choices.

The Unhealthiest Choice of All

Okay, one of the following choices contains 89 grams of saturated fat and measures in at a jaw-dropping total of 3,120 calories. Which do you think it is?

  1. Steak served with fries
  2. Pasta, shrimp, tomato, arugula and mushrooms in a creamy sauce of basil, garlic and lemon

You have to admit the pasta dish sounds like the healthiest option but the shocking truth is that you could eat the steak with fries followed by a generous slice of cheesecake and still not reach the 3,120 calories served up in one serving of the Cheesecake Factory’s “Bistro Shrimp Pasta” described above.

The Bottom Line

The usual fast food suspects are by no means the only restaurant chains serving up shockingly unhealthy meals in the U.S. and the key to making healthier food choices lies in gaining an understanding of exactly what’s in each of your favorite meals, not just judging the content of a dish by its tasty menu description and seemingly healthy ingredients.