buffalo wing salad
1 / 17

Buffalo Chicken Salad

The Count: 1,040 calories, 72 grams fat, 3,470 milligrams sodium

"Salad" is stretching it! Fried meat, oily sauce, and cheese push the calories in this meal through the roof at one popular restaurant. It has about as many as a whole pint of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. The salad also packs nearly 25% more fat.


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french toast and bacon
2 / 17

French Toast and Bacon

The Count: 1,130 calories, 20 grams saturated fat, 1,780 milligrams sodium

Want to use up a good chunk of your day's calories before noon? Eat this for breakfast. Better make it brunch, or you won’t have many calories left to spare for dinner. This dish also has more than an entire day’s worth of saturated fat and sodium.


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chicken fajitas
3 / 17

Chicken Fajitas

The Count: 1,300 calories, 47 grams fat, 4,800 milligrams sodium

Chicken fajitas can be a healthy option. But they're often served with heaps of sour cream, shredded cheese, refried beans, and fried rice. Pack it all in, and you've got plenty of calories to pad your waistline! Instead, load up on grilled peppers, onions, chicken, and fresh salsa. Stick with just one tortilla. 

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fried rice
4 / 17

Vegetarian Fried Rice

The Count: 1,090 calories, 19 grams fat, 2,210 milligrams sodium

Getting Chinese takeout? Don't assume the veggie options are the healthiest. Vegetarian fried rice can pack an unhealthy wallop. Instead, go for steamed dishes with lots of veggies and brown rice if it’s on the menu. Keep the rice to a half-cup -- that’s about half the size of half a baseball. Always ask for sauce on the side.


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pasta carbonara
5 / 17

Pasta in Carbonara Sauce

The Count: 1,570 calories, 113 grams fat, 2,460 milligrams sodium

Grilled chicken and shrimp can be good choices. But if they're drenched in carbonara sauce, not so much. A plate of pasta with shrimp and chicken in carbonara can creep up to unhealthy levels. It also has more fat than you'd get from eating a half-dozen glazed doughnuts. 


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deep dish sausage pizza
6 / 17

Deep Dish Pizza With Sausage

The Count: 2,300 calories, 164 grams fat, 4,910 milligrams sodium

Deep dish pizza can be deep trouble. One "individual" sausage pizza  serves up more calories than most people should eat in a whole day. It also packs double the daily limit of fat. Want to make it better? Skip the sausage and opt for thin crust.


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club sandwich
7 / 17

Club Sandwich

The Count: 1,520 calories, 20 grams saturated fat, 3,500 milligrams sodium

Club sandwiches are sneaky. Even with lean turkey or chicken, they can serve up a ton of calories and a whole day’s worth of saturated fat. Where is it all hiding? In the bacon, cheese, extra slice of giant bread, and mayo. Opt for a single-decker turkey sandwich instead. Choose plenty of veggies and add a few avocado slices for flavor.


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large fries
8 / 17

Large Fries

The Count: 1,314 calories, 57 grams fat, 1,327 milligrams sodium

In a pinch, you might think that just one order of fries -- and nothing else -- would be OK. Not really. Large fries can have more calories than a whole loaf of white bread, with an extra bonus of unhealthy saturated fat. If you're jonesing for fries, just get a small. You'll save 788 calories.


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cheeseburger sliders
9 / 17


The Count: (4 sliders) 1,560 calories, 83 grams fat, 4,520 milligrams sodium

How bad can those cute little burgers be? If you eat the whole order, pretty bad. A plate of 4 sliders at lunch leaves you just 440 calories to spare for the rest of your day. Solution? Don't eat the whole order. Pack up one or two in a doggie bag and have them tomorrow.


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Breaded Shrimp in Cheese Dip
10 / 17

Eat Better: Find Hidden Calories

You can skip the most fattening restaurant meals by reading the menu closely. Look for clues. Words like pan-fried, sautéed, battered, breaded, au gratin, cheesy, creamy, buttered, deep-fried, béarnaise, or crispy are usually signs of extra fat and calories. "Crisp" items are often deep-fried in oil.

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Grilled Shrimps and Vegetables
11 / 17

Eat Better: Ask How It's Cooked

Preparation makes a big difference. Baking fish -- with herbs, veggies, and lemon juice -- adds very few calories or fat to the dish. Other healthy cooking methods include:

  • Grilled
  • Broiled
  • Toasted
  • Baked
  • Poached
  • Steamed


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Smaller Portions of Food
12 / 17

Eat Better: Go á la Carte

Skip the jumbo portions and rich sides that come with restaurant entrees. Instead, go for small plates that you can share, or choose side orders for your meal. In a Mexican restaurant, try one corn taco of grilled meats, a cup of chicken-tortilla soup, a side salad, and a fruit dessert. You get exactly what you want and a fraction of the calories.

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Double Patty and Single Patty Hamburgers
13 / 17

Eat Better: Downsize

When only a hamburger will do, or a drive-through is your only option, think small. Go for the child's meal or a junior burger. Try this switch to get your fast-food fix with fewer calories:

  • Skip: The mega burger, large fries, large soda --1,320 calories
  • Choose: Cheeseburger, kid's fries, extra-small soda -- 500 calories


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Basket of Bread
14 / 17

Eat Better: Hide Temptations

Restaurants like to give you a sense that there’s plenty on the table. It starts with an overflowing basket of bread or chips. Don't mindlessly devour a few hundred calories before your main meal. Ask the waiter to take away the basket of carbs before you've touched it -- or after you take a small portion.

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Eggplant Penne Pasta
15 / 17

Eat Better: Pasta

Pasta swimming in cream sauce can be an unhealthy choice. It's packed with fat, calories, and cholesterol. Instead, eat a small portion of whole-grain pasta topped with better sauces, such as:

  • Red clam sauce
  • Marinara sauce without meat
  • Primavera sauce without cream
  • Marsala sauce with wine, not butter


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Healthier Slice of Pizza
16 / 17

Eat Better: Pizza

Pizzerias are used to getting special orders. A few simple changes can slash the calories and fat in your pie:

  • Pile on veggies and skip the meat.
  • Ask for extra sauce and half the cheese.
  • After a slice or two, take the rest home.
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Healthy Bowl of Berries
17 / 17

Eat Better: Dessert

Fresh fruit is available at many restaurants now, even fast-food chains, thanks to demand from health-conscious diners. If it's not listed with the desserts, check the side dishes -- or ask for a special order.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 06/29/2015 Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on June 29, 2015


1) Heath Patterson / Photographer's Choice
2) iStockphoto
3) John P Kelly / StockFood Creative
4) iStockphoto
5) Shenghung Lin Photos / Flickr Collection
6) Zoonar/Steve Heap
7) Alexis Platoff / Tips Images RM
8) Maximilian Stock Ltd./ Photographer's Choice
9) Lara Hata / FoodPix10) Foodcollection RF
11) Colin Erricson/Stock Food Creative
12) Kai Stiepel/Stock Food Creative
13) iStock, Ryan McVay/Photodisc
14) Tom Grill/Iconica
15) Jupiter Images
16) iStock
17) iStock


Ben & Jerry's: "Our Flavors: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.”

IHOP: “Nutrition Information.”

American Heart Association: “Saturated Fat.”

American Heart Association: “About Sodium: Salt.”

Applebees: “Nutritional Information.”

American Heart Association: “Tips for Eating Mexican Food.”

P.F. Changs: "Nutritional Information."

American Heart Association: “Tips for Eating Chinese Food.”

American Heart Association: “What Is a Serving?”

Olive Garden: “Nutritional Guide.”

Dunkin Donuts: “Nutrition Catalog.”

Uno's Chicago Grill: “Nutrition Info.”

Five Guys: “Nutritional Information.”

Bimbo Bread: “Soft White.”

American Cancer Society: "Restaurant Eating Tips."

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Eat Right: Healthy Eating on the Run: A Month of Tips.”

American Cancer Society: “Restaurant Eating Tips.”

American Heart Association: “Tips for Eating Italian Food.”

American Heart Association: "Ordering Your Meal.”

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on June 29, 2015

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.