Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on December 11, 2021

Ham and Cheese Omelet


The Count: Approximately 512 calories, 37 grams of fat, 1,277 milligrams of sodium

This breakfast staple packs plenty of protein, but at half of your total fat and sodium requirements for the day. That’s not including adding hash browns or home fries. If you’re really wanting an omelet, make a smaller one with one or two whole eggs, and add some whole-grain toast and a side of fruit.


Chicken and Waffles


The Count: Approximately1,012 calories, 54 grams of fat, 852 milligrams of sodium

This crunchy-sweet combination may be a treat for your taste buds, but it comes at a steep calorie price. It also includes 24 grams of sugar, thanks to the syrup and butter. Consider getting grilled chicken and baked sweet potato fries (a great source of vitamin A) instead.

Bacon Double Cheeseburger


The Count: Approximately858 calories, 50 grams of fat, 1,764 milligrams of sodium

Plan on walking for nearly 4 hours if you want to work off the calories you’ll gain with this guilty pleasure. In addition, this meal easily hits your daily 20-gram limit of saturated fat. To cut the calories, consider veggie patties, turkey burgers, or grilled chicken instead of beef, or ask if it can be served on a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.


Baby Back Ribs (Full Rack)


The Count: Approximately1,240 calories, 83 grams of fat, 2,270 milligrams of sodium

There are 90 grams of protein here, but you’ll use up your entire daily allowance of fat before you add extra sauce, let alone a side dish. If you really crave pork, order center-cut pork chops or a pork loin instead. They have a fraction of the calories.

Chicken Alfredo


The Count: Approximately1,191 calories, 81 grams of fat, 940 milligrams of sodium

How can something with chicken in it have so many calories and more than twice the saturated fat you should have for the day? Easy. The fettuccine, butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan put it over the top. Instead, opt for chicken cacciatore with onions, herbs, tomatoes, and bell peppers. You’ll still enjoy that Italian experience without wrecking your calorie count.


Pepperoni Stromboli


The Count: Approximately1,182 calories, 78 grams of fat, 3,372 milligrams of sodium

A stromboli is basically a pizza that’s rolled up and baked. So the crust, cheese, and meat are concentrated in every tasty but calorie-heavy slice. If you eat the whole thing, you’ll need to ride 25 miles on a bicycle to work it off. Bruschetta -- grilled bread rubbed with garlic with various toppings -- is the healthier option here.


General Tso’s Chicken


The Count: Approximately 1,578 calories, 88 grams of fat, 2,327 milligrams of sodium

This dish, supposedly named after a famous general from China’s Hunan province, looks innocent at first glance: fried chicken and broccoli covered in a sweet and spicy sauce. But the calories in the chicken and the sweet sauce add up quickly. For a healthier main course at half the calories, try kung pao chicken instead.


Beef Chimichangas


The Count: (one large) Approximately742 calories, 34 grams of fat, 736 milligrams of sodium

This flour tortilla packed with ground beef, refried beans, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic is folded and then fried. When you add the oil, you’re already halfway to your recommended daily fat before you even choose a side. Try a burrito bowl with black or pinto beans as a healthier alternative.

Chicken Tikka Masala


The count: (2 cups) Approximately707 calories, 43 grams of fat, 4,144 milligrams of sodium

This has plenty of vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. But the cream, yogurt, and tomato sauce tip the scales here before you even add rice and naan. Plus, this puts you well over your daily limit of saturated fat and sodium. Order the tandoori chicken instead.

Pad Thai


The count: Approximately838 calories, 45 grams of fat, 1,301 milligrams of sodium

This takeout staple seems healthy. But the oil, butter, noodles, eggs, and peanuts push this dish to those hefty fat and sodium totals. Try chicken satay with peanut sauce for a more diet-friendly option.


Loaded Baked Potato


The count: Approximately405 calories, 24 grams of fat, 538 milligrams of sodium

Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. But adding sour cream, cheese, and bacon makes this side almost a meal in itself. A baked sweet potato gives you the same vitamin boost at a fraction of the calories, even with a sprinkling of brown sugar.

Eat Better: Get a To-Go Box


Portion sizes have been getting larger and larger, which means more of everything, including calories, fats, and sodium. But Mom was wrong: You don’t have to clean your plate. Instead, save half of your entrée to take home. You’ll take in fewer calories and get two meals for the price of one.


Eat Better: Salad or Soup


A small salad or cup of soup is better for you than a greasy, cheesy appetizer. But keep a watch out for hidden calories, particularly in some salad dressings. And beware of added sodium in some soups.

Eat Better: Choose Healthier Sides


Just because it comes with fries or chips, don’t hesitate to check the menu (or ask your server) for healthier substitutions. Many restaurants now list calorie counts for every item, so take your entire meal into consideration, not just the main course.

Eat better: Save Room for Dessert


You can still satisfy that sweet tooth without loading on extra calories. Most restaurants may offer a fresh fruit option. Pick a sherbet over ice cream. Sponge cake is also a great choice. Also be aware that fruit smoothies may contain a lot of sugar.

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Nutritionix: “Ham and cheese omelet,” “Bacon double cheeseburger,” “Baby back ribs, full rack,” “Chicken alfredo,” “Pepperoni Stromboli,” “General Tso’s chicken,” “Beef chimichanga,” “Tikka masala,” “Pad Thai,” “Loaded baked potato,” “Long Island,” “Cherry cheesecake.” "Choose This, Not That: Healthy & Unhealthy Choices at Fast Food Restaurants."

Berkeley Wellness, University of California: “7 Incredible Lentil Recipes,” “Best and Worst Indian Foods,” “Is Lamb Red Meat?”

Harvard Health: “Fried Foods Linked to Earlier Death,” “Salad greens: Getting the most bang for bite.” “Portion Size.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dessert Recipes.”