Weighing In: Extreme eats lurk on menus

Published on Saturday, 2 August 2014 19:30 - Written by Coshandra Dillard cdillard@tylerpaper.com

When you think about extreme food, certain chains are obvious offenders, such as the Heart Attack Grill, which I wrote about in 2011.

But popular restaurant chains may offer just as sinful fares that provide more than a day’s worth of calories, fat, salt and sugar.

Last week, the Center for Science in the Public’s Interest released their 2014 Xtreme Eating Awards.

Each year, these awards highlight menu items that are over-the-top and are sure to put your belly over the top of your pants.

Its most coveted spot went to Red Robin for a Monster Meal, which consists of an A-1 Peppercorn Burger, bottomless fries and a Monster Caramel Milkshake. This calorie bonanza will cost you 3,540 calories, three and a half days’ worth of saturated fat, at 69 grams, and four days’ worth of sodium at 6,280 milligrams.

The Cheesecake Factory “won” three of the nine awards given by CSPI. At the top of the list is its Bruleéd French Toast, also served with bacon. It weighs in at 2,780 calories, 93 grams of saturated fat, 2,230 mg of sodium and 24 teaspoons of sugar.

The Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic dish racks up 2,410 calories, 63 grams of saturated fat and 1,370 milligrams of sodium.

The most decadent dessert there, Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, is worth 1,500 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat, and 21 teaspoons of sugar.

The Xtreme Eating Awards reminds us of the state of our eating habits. It seems every year, restaurants and food companies are in a race to see who can concoct the most extravagant dish, with little regard of the impact.

To be fair, chances are that people who visit the Cheesecake Factory or Red Robin may not think about or care to think about nutrition. It’s a treat, and we don’t expect to find (or want) a lot of healthy options.

I, too, love cheesecake and recently tried Cheesecake Factory’s Mango Key Lime version as a birthday treat (I learned after the fact that it cost me 614 calories).

The message behind CSPI’s list is to be knowledgeable. Whether we accept responsibility — as people have a right not to —we still need to know what we’re putting in our bodies.

Continuing to subscribe to adventurous eating too often will restructure our food culture in such as way that we one day won’t recognize real sustenance. Now that is extreme.