When I first thought of resteaurants,  I didn’t particularly know where it would lead. Normally I write articles about what we should be doing to protect our health. However, it has occurred to me that many American’s misunderstand what “healthy” truly means. In our Capitalist environment, there are many very unhealthy foods disguised as healthy. What I didn’t bargain for was the oodles of returns Google would provide using the search criteria “worst places to eat.”

I guess in my mind I was thinking, health reasons. Google… Well Google called me out and posed many questions. Would that be customer service? Food? Calories? Location. On and On.

Oh, my.

A cool 116 million results.


A quick change in criteria and I’ve reduced it down to 53.6 million results

Finally…something I can work with.

The 9 Worst Chain Restaurants in America

  1. Applebee’s – Items such as the meatball sub packs a whopping 1,510 calories. Adults should consume no more than 2,000 all day!! The children’s menu alone ranging from 230- 650 calories. Likely without noticing, the children’s Oreo Cookie Shake packs 820 calories. Add a shake to any kid’s meal and a child is eating nearly as many calories allowed for an adult per day.
  2. Chili’s – This was actually very frustrating. I had to dig and dig just to find a menu with a calorie count. The very best I could manage was other bloggers who have also identified Chili’s as a nutritionally deficient food establishment. Needless to say I didn’t gain a full spectrum of the menu, but each analyzed a different portion. Chili’s #1 most popular item, Margarita Chicken Bowl, has 870 calories. To my surprise, the bottomless Tostada Chips had the highest calories coming in at 910. That my friends, is before the food comes.
  3. California Pizza Kitchen – Oh my. While their official page does not contain calories, I was able to Google a nutrition chart. Appetizers range from 370 – 1,190 calories. Not all that surprisingly, their salads range from 450-1,500 calories!! Some logging in higher calories than many of the pizza’s on the menu. The lowest calorie main dish I located was 830 calories. The highest, The Meat Craver (pizza) coming in at 1,590!!
  4. Olive Garden – Pasta and heavy sauces. What more is there to say? Another restaurant which will not show you the menu unless you start the process of ordering. Maybe I don’t know if I want something. Can a girl take a look first?

Apparently not.

Luckily, I located a PDF and I was off to explore the calorie content of Olive Garden. At first I’m a bit annoyed because at the very top is the healthy meal options. I’m looking and looking and wondering, where is the gut busting Tour of Italy? Alas, I see it. A little determination and the wiliness to scroll and scroll I see there are more pages. Scroll WAY down. Down past the alcohol, beer and wine. Halfway down I come across the appetizers. Just to start your meal off, the Stuffed Mushrooms will cost you 380 calories. From there, the sky is the limit. The highest calorie count, Lasagna Fritta checks in at 1,070 calories!

Ahhhh… the Tour of Italy. You elusive devil. I have finally found you. Sitting they’re hiding among its 1,100 and over friends with a calorie count of 1,520!! The second highest.

  1. Outback Steakhouse – While I can appreciate Outback’s nod to better health, the menu just doesn’t cut it. I clicked on the kid’s meal and choices range from 260-650 calories. A lot for a tiny tot!
  2. The Cheesecake Factory – While doing research I came across a site that stated, “be prepared to be shocked.” I knew I was in for a treat! While reviewing the menu, the first item I see is an appetizer. The Factory Appetizer Favorites contains 3,220 calories. Even sharing, that is massive. The lowest calorie appetizer was the Thai Lettuce wraps at 1,030 calories.

As the previous website has suggested, I was shocked. The Chicken and Biscuits has 2,260 calories. …without sides! Astonishing. We all like sides. However, if you want macaroni & cheese it will cost you ANOTHER 1,310 calories. To my surprise, every single item off the regular menu has over 1,000 calories.

  1. Chipotle – While Chipotle provides a very fancy nutrition calculator, I immediately noticed one item which was isolated. The tortilla. A whopping 320 calories alone! Once I build my standard burritos (no cheese or sour cream) I’d tallied 1,180 calories! For shiggles (shits & giggles), let’s try pork. The pork version (with cheese & sour cream) came in at 1,430 calories.

I went ahead and tested the kids menu. Two corn tacos, chips & Organic Chocolate milk weighed in at 605 calories! That packs a punch for a child.

8. Cosi – At first glance this one threw me for a loop! The menu appeared healthy. The calories not so bad. That is, until I stumbled on the PB & J (adult). This steamily discrete sandwich is packed with calories. 684 to be exact! How can this be one of the highest calorie items on the menu? Then I find the Broccoli Cheddar Soup. This starter has 770 calories. All those calories,  and your meal hasn’t even begun!!! On the up side, Cosi provides a full list of menu items, along with the common food people are allergic to

9. T.G.I. Friday’s – Another painstakingly difficult restaurant to obtain a menu. With or without calories. The official site actually required me to hit, order out with a zip. Really?!?! I can’t even view the menu? But then, I came upon a site called Every single menu item is listed. I chose the Spinach Dip. It has a horrific count of 1,109 calories. Even split, you’ve ingested a meals worth of calories. The Jack Daniel’s Sirloin & Shrimp, WITHOUT sides contains 1009 calories. I needn’t go any further.

I can’t image too many of us are surprised by the list above. Restaurants by and large are known for their unhealthy practices cooking foods. After all, it’s likely the excessive butter that makes it taste so yummy in the first place.

I must admit Outback Steakhouse is my ultimate favorite. It’s our go-to place for birthdays. It’s humorous because my son-in-law is Australian and he tells us how NOT Australian it is the whole time.  I’m tried to familiarize him with a gimmick, but he isn’t receptive.

I still love it.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

The most important aspect of having a healthy lifestyle is continuing to eat healthy and work out on a daily basis. Having a birthday dinner isn’t going to hurt anyone. Certainly, a slice of cake won’t either. But, what I find most enjoyable is the fact I always leave with a second meal. Due to the high fat content and sweet taste, I never finish my meal. So of course, there is never room for dessert either.

What Are Your Thoughts?

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