There are a few go-to ways to curb unhealthy eating while dining out. Not going at all, of course, might be the easiest tactic. But making an attempt to choose healthier options, like lighter dishes and salads, are also popular options. Unfortunately, they aren’t always the most effective.
“I’ll just have a salad” doesn’t always ensure you’re going to eat light — or healthy. In some cases, fast food salads contain more calories, sodium, and fat than an entree with sides.
Steer clear of these fast food salads if you want to dine on the (slightly) healthier side.
Friendly’s Crispy Chicken Salad
Friendly’s gives us a few easy-to-miss hints toward the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of this item in the salad’s description.
- Country-breaded — The chicken was fried.
- Juicy chicken tenders — They were cooked in oil, not baked.
- Sliced egg — More protein, but also more calories.
The entire salad contains nearly 1,000 calories, 1,410 milligrams of sodium, and 20 grams of sugar. Experts generally recommend an upper limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium in a single day; this item contains over half that.
Red Lobster Classic Caesar Salad With Grilled Salmon
For the record, grilled salmon isn’t a terrible food. It’s full of protein and healthy fats, and can count as a healthy addition to many dishes. But not this one.
Red Lobster’s Classic Caesar Salad without add-ons provides 520 calories, 9 grams of saturated fat, and 1,050 milligrams of sodium. Unfortunately, adding salmon to your salad also tacks on another 310 calories. In total, the salad with salmon contains 13 grams of saturated fat and 1,540 milligrams of sodium — in just one salad.
If you can’t go out to eat without a Caesar salad, consider ordering one as a side instead. The side salad is less than 300 calories total.
Wendy’s Taco Salad
Wendy’s is all about promoting the healthiest options possible to its customers. Its non-fry sides give both kids and adults the opportunity to make good choices, whether they end up choosing fruit over fries or not. Salads seem healthy. At fast food restaurants, they usually aren’t.
A Wendy’s Taco Salad, for example, contains 660 calories, 13 grams of saturated fat, 18 grams of sugar, and nearly 2,000 milligrams of sodium. A salad might not always taste salty, but that doesn’t mean your heart is safe.
The good news is, you can order a half salad — which, understandably, would significantly reduce the number of calories, sodium, and fat. But let’s be honest: Most of us, when given the option of a full or half of anything, will almost always choose the full. There’s a reason they ask you which one you want. It’s not a coincidence.
Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad With Crispy Chicken
Again, the salad’s description says a lot.
- Crispy breaded chicken tenders — The chicken was fried.
- Rice noodles — More carbs than you might want out of a salad.
- Vinaigrette dressing — Added sodium and fat.
The popular chain’s salad offers 1,440 calories, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1,630 milligrams of sodium, and 37 grams of sugar.
There are actually two versions of Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad: one with crispy chicken, and another with the chicken grilled. The grilled chicken salad contains fewer calories and less saturated fat, but has more sodium than the crispy chicken salad.
IHOP Crispy Chicken Cobb Salad
The International House of Pancakes (or is it Burgers?) doesn’t just serve breakfast. It also serves non-breakfast food, like sandwiches, salads, and, yeah, burgers.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, “crispy” chicken usually implies the dish in question probably isn’t as healthy as it could be. Breaded chicken contains unnecessary calories and fat you’ve somehow convinced yourself you can’t live without. But you can. Especially when you’re ordering a salad.
IHOP’s Crispy Chicken Cobb Salad will add 1,250 calories, 27 grams of saturated fat, and 2,350 milligrams of sodium to your day. That’s more salt in one salad than you’re technically supposed to have in a single 24-hour period. That’s way too much salt. There’s no way it can be worth it.
When it comes to fast food salads, choose wisely. There could be more questionable add-ons hiding beneath those greens than openly advertised.
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