Avoid Calorie and Salt Shockers in Popular Chains’ Salads

By ABC News

Aug 27, 2013 9:36am

Popular chain restaurants are often criticized for not having the healthiest choices, so when you eat out this summer, you might think getting a salad from a chain restaurant’s menu is the healthier option. Depending on what you select, one expert says, you could be wrong.

According to Dave Zinczenko, author of the best-selling series, “Eat This, Not That” and ABC News’ nutrition and wellness editor, some popular salads have the same calorie counts as entire pizzas and the sodium content of nearly 30 small orders of McDonald’s french fries.

The key to avoiding diet detours is to know the components and choose wisely. Below are some potential salad shockers, along with some of Zinczenko’s healthier alternatives so you don’t unwittingly sabotage your diet.

1. California Pizza Kitchen: Moroccan Spiced Chicken

This salad has 1,370 calories and 82 grams of fat. The calorie count in this salad equals the total calories found in an entire medium thin crust pepperoni pizza from Domino’s.

Eat It to Beat It Alternative

When you eat at California Pizza Kitchen, opt for half of the Chinese chicken salad instead. It has just 330 calories and 10 grams of fat.

RELATED: How to Avoid Summer Diet Disasters: 4 Skinnier Restaurant Menu Picks

2. Chili’s Grill & Bar: Boneless Buffalo Chicken Salad

This salad has 1,030 calories, plus 4,720 milligrams of sodium. The sodium equals that which would be found in 29 and a half small orders of French fries from McDonald’s.

Eat It to Beat It Alternative

When you eat at Chili’s, choose the chicken Caesar salad instead. It has only 1,420 milligrams of sodium.

RELATED: The Biggest Fast-Food Calorie Bombs

3. IHOP: Chicken and Spinach Salad

This salad has 1,560 calories and 112 grams of fat. You would find the same amount of calories in six original Klondike bars.

Eat It to Beat It Alternative

When you eat at IHOP, opt for the house salad with vinaigrette.

RELATED: How to Spot and Skip Hidden Restaurant Calories

ABC News reached out to California Pizza Kitchen, Chili’s and IHOP and they said that they provide many different options for their customers to make their own healthy choices. Read their full statements below.

COMPANY STATEMENTS

CHILI’S GRILL & BAR

Chili’s Grill & Bar is committed to providing our guests with a range of options that taste great and fit their lifestyles, whether they are seeking more indulgent menu items or better-for-you foods. For instance, our Lighter Choices menu features six entrees that deliver the same bold, flavorful tastes guests crave all for less than 675 calories. In addition to being lower in calories and fat, several Lighter Choices menu items are lower in sodium. Guests are also always welcome to substitute side items or ask for adjustments in the preparation of their meal to meet specific dietary needs.”

CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN

“We strive to offer our guests variety to fit their dietary needs, and have a range of menu items under 650 calories, including the Classic Caesar, Roasted Vegetable and Chinese Chicken salads.  We also offer a new lite adventures menu which offers a number of lower calorie options, including the quinoa + arugula salad and shrimp scampi zucchini fettucini.” —  Brian Sullivan, SVP Culinary Innovation.

IHOP

At IHOP, we believe in giving our guests  a wide range of options to choose from, including a “Simple &Fit” menu of choices that are all under 600 calories, with at least one item in every category.  Our menu also offer tips  on how guests can  lower calorie counts when ordering  other selections.  Moreover, every item on our “Just for Kids menu” is under 600 calories.  Guests can always find calorie counts and other nutritional information for our menu selections at  www.ihop.com.

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