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Healthy Eating on the Road Is No Picnic

Eating healthfully on the road is a challenge that gets the better of many travelers.

Part of the problem, hiding in plain sight, is chain restaurants. They’re ubiquitous. They’re familiar. They’re affordable.

And while most chains have added token low-calories offerings to their menus, their most popular items tend to be diet-killers.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has just released results of its sixth annual Xtreme Eating Awards, which highlight the most unhealthy dishes on offer from more than 200 popular restaurant chains.

The Cheesecake Factory, according to the report, “remains the most calorically extreme chain that we’ve seen.” Among its highlighted diet-busters is the farfalle with chicken and roasted garlic. Sounds innocuous enough, right? But the dish packs 2,410 calories, more than most people’s allowance for a whole day, plus three days’ worth of saturated fat and 1,370 mgs. of sodium. (Most dietary guidelines recommend a daily intake of between 2,000 and 2,500 calories.)

Other menu items called out for dishonorable mention, including two more from Cheesecake Factory:

  • Restaurant: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers;
    Item: Monster-sized A.1. Peppercorn gourmet burger, Bottomless steak fries and a Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake;
    Calories: 3,540
  • Restaurant: Joe’s Crab Shack;
    Item: The Big Hook Up platter;
    Calories: 3,280
  • Restaurant: The Cheesecake Factory;
    Item: Bruleed French Toast;
    Calories: 2,780
  • Restaurant: Famous Dave’s;
    Item: The Big Slab of St. Louis-Style Spareribs;
    Calories: 2,770
  • Restaurant: Maggiano’s Little Italy;
    Item: Prime New York Steak Contadina style;
    Calories: 2,420
  • Restaurant: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse;
    Item: Signature Deep Dish Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza;
    Calories: 2,160
  • Restaurant: Chevys Fresh Mex;
    Item: Chevys Super Cinco Combo;
    Calories: 1,920
  • Restaurant: The Cheesecake Factory;
    Item: Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake;
    Calories: 1,500

Of course, sometimes the whole point of traveling is self-indulgence. A few extra pounds (or mgs. of trans fat)? There are worse problems to have. Besides, that’s what future visits to the gym are for.

For now, I’ll have the farfalle with chicken and roasted garlic.

Reader Reality Check

Do you tend to gain weight when traveling, or lose it?

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This article originally appeared on

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