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Men's Health "20 Worst Foods" of 2010

of course in this case "worst" refers to nutritional value...


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  1. i would still polish off the Uno's Deep Dish Sundae. Do not care about the calories.

    14 Replies
    1. re: mattstolz

      okay, i have to ask, calories aside, do you really *enjoy* every bite? granted i'm not a huge sweets person to begin with, and i'm petite so my average meal size is appreciably smaller than that of the average American, but i still don't see the appeal of eating such an enormous portion of something like that [actually anything, really] in one sitting.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        to be totally honest, i would probably TRULY enjoy very little of it. as a competing bodybuilder and health enthusiast, after a bite or two of some of those meals the guilt would start to kick into high gear and i would be feeling guilty far more than i would be enjoying the food.

        1. re: mattstolz

          okay, then why "polish it off?" and don't give me that nonsense about bulking up - i've trained and worked with top pro bodybuilders, and there are better ways to do it than that :)

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Don't you ever want to just be "bad"? While I'm the furthest thing from a bodybuilder, I've recently lost about 30 pounds and am in the best shape I've been in since I was 20. That doesn't mean I won't eat ridiculously unhealthy things from time to time.

            1. re: donovt

              sure, i just can't wrap my brain around the absurd *volume* of food when it comes to these things. i'm all for indulgence, but if i want ice cream and cookies, i don't want 2 pounds of it!

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Yeah, I guess that's why I had the 30 pounds to lose in the first place :)

                1. re: donovt

                  ha! i actually meant to comment about that in my other reply - congrats on the weight loss! it can be a real challenge for anyone, but i know it's particularly tough for Chowhounds :)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Thanks!! It was easier than I thought. Started eating more fruit and veggies for snacks instead of things like the Sundae, did away with soda, switched to yogurt for breakfast instead of bacon egg and cheese. Still eat whatever I want for dinner or if we go out for lunch.

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  When I was in high school I used to routinely pound down a half gallon of ice cream by myself...now I'm done after three bites. How things change!

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                its more the IDEA of polishing it off than the fact that i actually would. i keep far too careful track of my calories to ever actually polish it off, and even when im "bulking up" and easily over 4000 calories a day, it is still all VERY clean food in my case. but there are times, when im in my 19th week of dieting, have lost 40lbs, and am at half the calorie intake i was a couple months earlier, that the idea of sitting down with a entire pizza's worth of cookie dough and ice cream and polishing it off just sounds like the most fantastic thing in the entire world.

                so in short, its more of a fantasy thing than a "i would literally do that" thing haha... in a perfect world where i didnt have to worry about calories (or the night after a contest), i would love every bite.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  I always say "polish it off" in my head, but rarely make it so.

                  But I might be able to hog down that deep dish and baconator and that triple decker shrimp sandwich all in one sitting if I were pushed.

                  See how that works? LOL

                  Don't most people share that sundae thing? And a whole pizza? Most do not sit down to one alone. So it is a tad disingenuous of them, but it fills the mag.

                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    The pizza was the "personal" size, so in theory meant for one. The sundae, not so much.

              3. Pfffft, for some reason the "next" button won't work for me. I'll try again later, just in case. I'd like to see the list.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LulusMom

                  Finally got this to work. Pretty much stuff I wouldn't think of eating anyway ... but I agree with mattstolz that sometimes these things are worth a little evilness.

                2. I just love how Men's Health makes up lists just to sell books.

                  Amazing what people will buy.

                  Why didn't I think of this first.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    at least theres a "eat this instead" section.

                    however i agree, those choices are completely random, and i highly doubt are actually even the worst damage you could do to a diet in a night of eating out.

                  2. What I find interesting about these (not having had many of them, granted) is that they are such MASSIVE portions.

                    One of the items I have eaten is the Chicken dish from Cheesecake Factory [I know, I know, how "unChow" of me ;-) ]. My wife and I can split it and there's STILL enough left for two more portions equal to what we just consumed. So yeah it might be 2000 calories or whatever, but sheesh, does anyone actually eat the entire plate in one sitting?!?

                    I tend to agree with ipse, this is purely a marketing ploy to push more of these "Eat this, not this" books.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: a213b

                      You'd be surprised what people could and do eat in one sitting. Especially in a place like CF.. think about it... if you're dining with a group and the food is on the plate and the conversation keeps going... lots of people would just keep eating till it's gone.

                      A friend of mine goes there b/c they have 'healthy' options on the menu. She'll get a salad with grilled fish, but won't request no oil, no sauce, no cheese, lowfat dressing. The amount of full fat dressing on the salad probably has more calories than one should be consuming in a day.

                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        haha ive looked up the calories in some of those "healthy" options in preparation for going there... its really just ridiculous. its also so sad that restos are willing to mislead people like that by labeling some of those meals as healthy when they contain just as many calories as things not on the healthy menu

                        1. re: mattstolz

                          What's even worse is that, while pretty much anyone knows those foods aren't exactly healthful fare, it's impossible to know just HOW awful they are.

                          That kid's mac & cheese? I wouldn't have guessed it's over 1,000 calories. But then I am blown away by the calorie content of a simple whopper (i used to get a jr. w/cheese until the last one which was so freaking horrible i won't be missing those anymore, either).

                          1. re: mattstolz

                            sometimes the meals aren't labelled as healthy, but they just sound healthy. Like a salad that has fruit and grilled chicken. But.. it also has cheese, croutons, oily or mayo dressing, fried something or other, and nuts.

                            I wonder... do diners purposely overlook these details and think "salad = healthy?" Or are diners just not aware that these components add calories and fat?

                            1. re: cheesecake17

                              i think that the average diner overlooks these details, and thinks that veg=healthy regardless of what you put on it. kind of like the ranch commercials ("theres a place called hidden valley where kids cant get enough veg" where the kids are swimming in bowls of ranch dressing).

                              i think not only that, but some restos legitimately think they are offering a healthy option by offering a salad, regardless of what they put on it

                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                "I wonder... do diners purposely overlook these details and think "salad = healthy?" Or are diners just not aware that these components add calories and fat?"
                                the former. unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, you have at least SOME sense that chowing down on something loaded with fried tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream, oily dressing, etc isn't going to whittle your waistline.

                                and regarding portion size, i think that at this point *everyone* knows on some level that these ginormous servings are inappropriate, but in the frenetic settings in which they're consumed (fast-food joints or crowded, fast-casual restaurants with loud music and chirpy, up-selling servers), the atmosphere just encourages them to shovel it in mindlessly and heedlessly.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  I think it has less to do with portion size per meal, than it has to do with portion size per day.

                                  In other words, people just aren't aware of how much they consume for the entire day, which I think is more important than focusing on how much one eats per meal.

                                  There's nothing wrong with eating a ginormous Chili's burger with fries and ranch dressing if the rest of your meals for that day are just simple fruits and veggies.

                                  The problem is someone will eat one of these supposedly "20 Worst Foods" for lunch and then when they go home pickup a large pizza for dinner.

                                  And really, portion sizes are personal, no? What's a portion for me may only be half a portion to someone else.

                                  I know, for a scientifically validated fact, that 2 Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and a large Vanilla Milkshake constitute but ONE serving for me ...

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Thinking about this.. I remember a scene in a college nutrition class for health science majors. The teacher just got through explaining how a good-for-you lunch could be a salad with chicken and brown rice. The salad had veg, the chicken had protein, and the rice was a carbohydrate.

                                    Guy in class raised his hand and honestly questioned the teacher. "Why isn't a big mac healthy? It's got carbs (bun), protein (meat AND cheese) and vegetables (lettuce AND ketchup). The teacher looked shocked, but the guy was really asking honestly.

                                    So hey... maybe some people *are* living under a rock!

                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                      college nutrition classes taught me a lot.

                                      mainly that the majority of nutrition majors have no idea what theyre talking about [no offense meant to any of you nutrition majors out there... im sure youre not in the majority ;) ]

                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      I think people go out to dinner to enjoy themselves, not to count their calories. In fact I used to voice caloric concerns just about my own food while out and - well I do not do that anymore. People who want to know can figure it out for themselves. Those who don't should be granted their desire to remain blissfully ignorant.

                                      And it is not just fast food or chains that pile on the calories. But what would be the fun in hunting down a place few could relate to when adding up the cals.

                                      About portion size - I think people get used to the giant portions and stop realizing it is big. Especially if you eat out a lot. I am careful about portioning because I love to eat and I graze. But I have to really watch my plate when out and have had to get downright pissy when they seem miffed when I want to box up my food (mostly foreign countries, mainly Swiss).

                                      Also, I think there was a reference to Americans being gorgaholics (other words). Unfortunately people world wide will be gorgers and plumper as their economic status and food availability improves. They eat more meat - sometimes for B, L and D when before they may have only had it a couple times per week. Some only a generation ago had extreme food insecurity and now tis new generation has no sense of that.

                                      Finally, I make it a practice not to order dinner salads out. Even if it is with the dressing on the side. I WILL eat the bacon and avocado and the cheese and the crouts. it won't keep in my fridge and I will eat the ENTIRE thing because I am a clean plater (who only gets around that if I can order small things or take home half).

                                      Whew. Out of breath! better lay off the pumpkin bread! Or should i have said "The baconater"? I am gonna have one of those one day.

                                2. re: cheesecake17

                                  Sad but true.....Most members of the Dining Public equate quality with "MASSIVE portions; and we wonder why 27% of adult population in the U.S. is OBESE.

                                3. re: a213b

                                  Judging the amount of posts waxing rhapsodic over Velveeta and boxed mac and cheese and other things they "eat in secret" or what not - I think you are safely chowhoundy eating the chicken at Cheesecake Factory.

                                  I have seen a person eat a 52 ounce piece if prime rib (not including the bone!), a potato the size of a baby's head (fully loaded with butter and sour cream), a salad, G-d knows how many rolls and probably 5 very stiff liquor drinks (he left the broccoli) all in one sitting. One of his table mates ate a 2 pound filet mignon. I know! Not at all mignon! That was years ago and I still remember it vividly.

                                  I digress. My point is people can eat more than you think and PLENTY - I'd say most finish what is given to them at restaurants. And Chows love a broad spectrum of chow.

                                4. Holy crap. I mean, how on earth can a shrimp pasta dish add up to almost 3,000 calories??? Seriously, do they add a pound of butter or something?

                                  Thankfully, pretty much all those foods look utterly disgusting to me (just like any other food commercial on TV for TGIF's, Chili's, Olive Garden etc pp), save for _maybe_ the grilled shrimp club sandwich or whatever the hell that was. Still -- where do ALL those calories come from?

                                  Gross, is what that is.

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    finishing with olive oil, massive quantities, and tons of cheese and bacon add up fast. as do buttering breads to toast them

                                    1. re: mattstolz

                                      The olive oil wouldn't explain the saturated fat, however.

                                      1. re: observor

                                        thats true. from what ive seen the amount of butter just randomly thrown around in most kitchens though is just ridiculous haha.

                                    2. re: linguafood

                                      People always think it's the fat, but starches are very calorically dense, too. Together, you may just apply them directly to your gut, thighs and butt. :-)

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        Well, a cup of cooked pasta has about 200 calories. That would be 15 cups of pasta.


                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          And honestly, after the first 10 cups or so, who's counting? :-) It would not surprise me if the pasta accounted for up to half the calories, perhaps.

                                          I thought all the foods looked disgusting, too. And all that low quality protein and fat was layered with blobs of calorie dense, mostly nutrient free starch. I'm guessing the salad minus the dressing, or more lightly dressed, might not be such a calorie bomb, though with enough avocado, it can add up, but at least it's high nutrient calories.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            I think the sad thing about the salad is that everyone knows the other foods are bad for you but how many people are ignorant enough to think, "Ooh, salad, I'll be healthy and get that!" I'd say it's a good number.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              The salad *is* healthy minus the tortilla strips and the probable half cup of dressing that's being counted in the total. Savvy diners, at least, can have a healthy meal from it. In my case, it'd be minus the tortilla strips, black bean and corn salsa, most of the dressing (I'd probably ask for and use plain vinegar or lemon with the avocado providing the fat), s and p. Most places have it listed at 500 calories, but TGIF does not provide much info for it; I'm guessing that's the salad minus the dressing, which every diner pretty much knows is optional and a calorie bomb. Having eaten at at TGIF not long ago when on the run, I think I had this very salad; it was so sloppily thrown together, and skimpy on the good stuff that I'm pretty sure I'd never go back even on a dare, though.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                The key is the "savvy" dinner. I don't think that's most people. It might seem obvious to people who have a rudimentary understanding of nutrition but that's not the general population. Overall, I'm not saying a salad isn't healthy or can't be made healthier, just that that particular salad, as served, isn't and most people don't know it. No one would order the triple baconator and think he/she were getting a healthy meal but this salad is deceptive.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  IIRC, they serve that dressing on the side; most online calcs say the salad itself is 500 calories and you can only imagine the size of the dressing portion, which comes in a gravy boat, IIRC. I agree that if you look around you, it's clear that a lot of us aren't savvy diners, but most folks know that dressing piles on the lbs, at least. They may use it anyway...and eat the chips. I ordered it sans chips and used little dressing. It was a skimpy mess.

                                    3. some of those items make a celeb chef's tasting menu look like diet food

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        i have a feeling alot of chefs menus ARE diet food compared to these. especially since tasting menus often like to show off fresh ingredients and are smaller portion sizes, even with several courses

                                        1. re: mattstolz

                                          Actually, many tasting menus would probably have equal, if not more, amounts of saturated fats, calories and sodium.

                                          Foie gras, pork belly, and butter poached beef cheeks aren't exactly lo-cal or lo-fat.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            yeah alot of them do, i was more or less playing devils advocate though. mostly trying to make the point that if i WAS gunna eat those kinda cals in one meal, i know which meal i would rather spend them on.

                                            (hint: its not the shrimp club)

                                            1. re: mattstolz

                                              The thing is, just about every restaurant dish -- be it at Olive Garden or at Per Se -- comes loaded with calories, fats, sodium, etc. It's why they taste *so* good.

                                              At home, we would be aghast if we added those same (or similar) amounts of butter, oil, animal fats, salt, etc.

                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                              Foie gras actually isn't as bad as you might think. I think it's 250 calories for 3 ounces. Practically all the calories come from fat, but it isn't the saturated kind.

                                              1. re: observor

                                                Mmm, not necessarily true.

                                                About a 1/3 to 14 of the total fats in most foie gras is the saturated variety.

                                                While it's certainly not health food, I consider foie gras to be a really key component of a well-balanced diet because it is so nutrient dense, esp. those looking for foods high in both protein and iron

                                                Foie gras nutitional profile: http://www.enjoyfoiegras.com/info/fac...

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  plus a 3 oz. portion size is generally satisfactory. .... ok, maybe 4 oz. '-)

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      thanks, but no thanks. i'm a foie lover, but i hate protein bars. that's just fake food to me.

                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                  I have been dreaming of butter poached cheeks.

                                                  Not too long ago I had to be FORCED away from a Korean market's meat section because I was heavily eying (and maybe doing other things - not sure I went into a fugue state) the pork bellies. I was back there so long dreaming and chatting with myself that the meat stocker avoided me and my husband had to come back, talk me down and then lure me away with a frozen duck.

                                                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                    Butter poached beef cheeks...is that sauteed cow buttocks?

                                            3. Someone in the office has a subscription to Men's Health and what cracks me up about it is that if you actually look through the magazine most of the articles are two or three paragraphs long, apparently they have concluded that men have the attention span of a gnat.

                                              /am a man
                                              //have the attention span of a gnat

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: redfish62

                                                Really need to compare that to the length of Playboy's articles.

                                                1. re: ediblover

                                                  playboy is carried in all the law libraries for a reason. at least it used to be a good publication on free press.

                                                2. re: redfish62

                                                  the worst part of those magazines is they may be 120 pages long, and have 80 pages of ads

                                                  1. re: mattstolz

                                                    actually, Muscle & Fitness is much worse in terms of ad-to-content ratio. Men's Health is like Time or National Geographic in comparison ;)

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      Those muscle magazines are loaded with what they call "advertorials" written as articles by their advertising sales team for their advertisers. I was once friends with someone who did that for one of them.

                                                  2. re: redfish62

                                                    Magazines like Men's Health are the magazine equivalent of USA Today.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Yes, if they didn't have a cover story about how to lose one's gut and get a six-pack, I think I would pass out. I'd probably drop my burger.

                                                  3. Things I would eat on that list:

                                                    Wendy's Triple Baconator: Only 1400 calories for that much meat, bacon and cheese? I'll take it! And give a chili, a frostie, and the new fries that I haven't tried yet.

                                                    Five Guys Large Fries: I ate at Five's over the weekend. Had regular cajun fries with the meal. Even though they fill your bag with fries, a better value than most, I've yet to get a large.

                                                    Outback Steakhouse Baby Back Ribs: Never been to Outback, but surely they can't get ribs wrong. Even if they do, aren't ribs one of those food that's still good when bad?

                                                    Denny's Smokin' Q Three Pack: Don't remember the last time I've been to Denny's, but I'm always willing to try burgers. 2,000 calories? Little league. I had 3 cheeseburger's with my Five's order.

                                                    Uno Chicago Grill Mega-Sized Deep Dish Sundae: So decadent! That "crust" had better not be dry.

                                                    On the article itself, I say, "Be a man and stop counting calories."

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: ediblover

                                                      And you can become twice the man you are if you do stop counting '-P

                                                      1. re: ediblover

                                                        That Baconator does look appealing. I love Wendy's but have never had a Baconator, let alone the triple. I do have a birthday coming up, sounds like a treat. As for the ribs, I wonder if that calorie count is vastly more than any other rack of ribs. How do you add calories to *ribs*? That sundae too looks good, but I think I could share it...something like that would just make you throw up anyway if you ate the entire thing.

                                                        1. re: observor

                                                          I had the baconator for lunch. The buns were lousy and the cheese didn't really add much flavor (more there for texture), but they got the bacon right! I actually smelled the applewood as I took the thing out of its bag. There's bacon in every bite and the texture of it was surprisingly good.

                                                          The calorie from the ribs has to come from the sugar and fat in the sauce.

                                                          If there was an Uno nearby I'd be tempted to make a stop and down both the classic deep dish and the dessert. But, the closest one is 20+ miles away and I'm not going that far just for novelty/gluttony.

                                                      2. maybe i'm the only one but i found nothing on the list to be remotely appetizing. everything looked and sounded really gross.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: trolley

                                                          Everyone I know who has tried Five Guys fries raves about them. They may not be good for you, but if you're ordering french fries then you're presumably not looking for the "healthy" option, and apparently these are particularly good ones.

                                                          Also, I think it's pretty clear that they deliberately shot the photos to look unappetizing. The fries, for instance, were all smashed together in the shape of the cup - that's not what they generally look like in real life, let alone in an advertising shot. So I wouldn't base your impression of them just on these photos.

                                                          1. re: monopod

                                                            well, i'm with trolley in that not even the idea/description of any of these dishes appeals to me. but you're right, the photos are intended to drive home the point that it's all crap, not to make us all want to run out and stuff our faces.

                                                            the problem with that large order of Five Guys fries is that it's over 1 1/4 *pounds* of fries, or the equivalent of five 4.3-oz servings...and i *highly* doubt that the only people who order that behemoth are groups of 4 or 5 people who plan to split it, particularly if they really are THAT good.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              I've ordered a small and just ate that (slllooowwwwwly) for a decadent lunch. I also told them to go sort of easy on the serving! That was for a birthday treat, though... :o)

                                                              Most of the time, I split the small order of fries with at least one other person. If I'm alone, I just don't buy the fries. Learned that the very first time I ordered from FG, but that time I also just reheated leftover fries the next day (they reheat fairly well in the oven, I gotta say!).

                                                              Also, I see tons of people dining at FG alone for lunch whenever I go, and they just toss the extra fries out or take them with them. It's not a given that one person is going to eat all the damn fries in one go along with their regular FG burger.

                                                              A funny thing happens when you assume how other people act and what they do with what they spend their money on...

                                                        2. These aren't really the "worst foods" as much as the worst dishes found at chain restaurants. To be the worst, you'd need to compare the same quantities. I mean, I could have a truck full of broccoli as a dish and call it the worst food because of the calories, on the extreme side. Put three big burgers together and it'll be high in calories and fat. I'd be interested in seeing, say, per ounce, what the worst foods are--not dishes that restaurants concoct to be high in calories and fat. I don't think I could finish off any of those dishes on the list. My family of four, including a teenage boy, finishes off a small order of Five Guys fries, though we sometimes can't finish them all.

                                                          1. I think it is interesting that they went out of their way to make some of the items look like they have been smashed and thrashed about. The Denny's country breakfast is particularly funny. Are desecrated eggs and a giant ball of butter on a sagging pile of cakes supposed to enhance our disgust?

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                              just curious - how does one 'desecrate' eggs? don't they first have to be sacred? does denny do a little baptizing action on them before they are served?

                                                            2. I love how the pictures are done so the items look so incredibily unappetizing. I also love that Cheesecake Factory has three items on the list. I just think it's funny, because 1. I hate the place and 2. People always tell me how healthy their food is.