Foods that Are Health and Nutritional Horrors (cont.)

7. Diet-Demolishing Drinks

The real problem with high-calorie drinks is that they go down easily, and don't tend to fill you up.

"Coffee drinks and smoothies don't set off bells and whistles to alert you to the calorie load," says Hurley. "Starbucks' white chocolate mocha is a Quarter-Pounder in a cup; any Frappuccino Blended Creme has 490-580 calories; and a venti Java Chip Frappuccino has the equivalent of 11 creamers and 20 packets of sugar.

To reduce the calories in your favorite coffee drink, order a small size, make it "skinny" (with low fat milk), and skip the whipped cream.

8. Mammoth Mall Munchies

Most people know when they order a gigantic burger that it is not good for them. But what really scares Hurley are the not-so-obviously fattening foods that people snack on at the mall.

"The highly aromatic cinnamon used in a Cinnabon (810 calories) or the smell of Mrs. Field's milk chocolate macadamia cookie (320 calories) tempts mall goers into thinking nothing of eating a snack that has half a day's calories or fat," she says.

Bring along a 100-calorie pack of crackers, some trail mix, or raw veggies to help you resist the tantalizing aromas of such high-calorie mall treats.

9. Dining-Out Diet Disasters

"Fifteen years ago, when I first started evaluating restaurant food, I was blown away by the 1,500 calories in a serving of Fettuccine Alfredo, but the trend has gotten worse, not better," says Hurley.

Fried macaroni and cheese and cheese fries were other nominees in the category of frightening foods found on restaurant menus.

10. Stupendous Servings

It's not just fast-food meals that have been super-sized in the last couple of decades.

"Muffins, bagels, salads, sandwiches, pasta servings -- almost everything is much larger today than it used to be or needs to be," says Hurley. "You can expect most restaurant appetizers, entrees, and desserts to each weigh in around 1,000 calories."

Here's a sure-fire way to start your day off on the wrong dietary foot: the enormous omelet sandwich at Burger King. This fork-free meal is loaded with two slices of cheese, three slices of bacon, two eggs, and a sausage patty on a giant bun, totaling 730 calories and 47 g fat.

Do Food Horrors Really Matter?

Yes, dietitians say, there are some truly frightening foods out there. But do they really matter to the average American's diet?

Michelle May, MD, author of Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don't Work, thinks that once a person indulges in a decadent dessert or monster burger, it triggers the "'I've already blown my diet, so why bother?" mentality.

Beyond that, May believes, the real horror may be the American mind-set about food.

"We were raised to clean our plates so we could be rewarded with dessert, which further enhances our desire to eat sweets and eat meals without recognition of fullness," she says.

Further, consider that many of the most frighteningly fattening foods are sold in restaurants. Americans now spend 48% of their food dollars in restaurants, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. And the most popular restaurant food eaten by both men and women is the hamburger, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.

Hurley thinks most people would think twice about ordering food and drinks that they realize are "hideously high in fat and calories." She'd like to see nutrition information about restaurant foods become more readily available, and believes this would encourage restaurateurs to offer more healthful options.

"Let's give consumers the choice and educate them with the nutritional information of restaurant foods at the point of purchase, not the web site," she recommends.

Published Oct. 27, 2006.


SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005". Burger King web site. Carl's Jr. web site. TGI Friday's web site. Mrs. Fields web site. USDA: "Let's Eat Out: Americans Weigh Taste, Convenience", and "Nutrition (EIB-19), October 2006". Press release, NPD group, Sept. 5, 2006. Jayne Hurley, RD, senior nutritionist, Center for Science in the Public Interest. Cynthia Sass, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association. Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, nutrition professor, New York University; author, What to Eat. Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD, food columnist, Allure magazine; nutrition consultant. Michelle May, MD, author, Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don't Work.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.



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