Typically, we are happy to get awards. But, it is unlikely that any of the restaurants on the list of "Extreme Eating Awards" are thrilled to be there.

We are getting more savvy in understanding that mindless overeating isn't about personal failure. Let me repeat. It's not about failure that so many people are apt to overeat. There are so many reasons that we easily get railroaded into mindless eating--a friend brings over a cake, we are celebrating a birthday, lack of sleep, being tired after work and ordering a pizza, stress eating... One of the many factors has to do with our toxic food environment. There is an abundance of food options that just aren't healthy. And, these foods don't help us to eat in a mindful way (manipulating our taste buds to expect super sweet foods and getting us hooked on highly salted foods).

Let's face it. The foods we eat are often incredibly deceptive. Even when you are trying to eat healthier, you run up against many obstacles.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its "Extreme Eating Awards" and nine meals made the list for being the unhealthiest in the nation.

Sure, we could probably guess that the options on this list aren't the healthiest choices out there. But, if put to the test (unless you are a dietitian), it's likely that you would underestimate how unhealthy each of these dishes might really be. Let's take an example. How about a California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak . Take a moment and guestimate the calories, fat and sodium content.

Here is some help. Let's narrow it down with some options.

A. 1,680 calories, 32 grams of saturated fat, and 3,300 mg of sodium.
B. 920 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat., 2000 mg of sodium
C. 1,820 calories and 7,690 milligrams of sodium.

Not as easy at it sounds is it. The point is that mindful eating is made even more challenging when some of our options are unhealthier than we think.
(The answer is A)

The Cheesecake Factory Pasta Carbonara with Chicken
A. 1,670 calories, 48 grams of saturated fat.
B. 2,500 calories, 85 grams of saturated fat. C.1,790 calories, 63 grams of saturated fat.
D. 1,380 calories, 34 grams of saturated fat.

What did you pick? If you chose B, you are correct.

Here is a list of the list of "extreme awards." Keep in mind that there is a lot of debate about whether restaurants have any responsibility for creating healthy options or if it is entirely up to the consumer to make good choices (see my former post about the Kentucky Fried Chicken Double Down burger)

California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak -- 1,680 calories, 32 grams of saturated fat, and 3,300 mg sodium.

Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger -- 920 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat. A large order of french fries at Five Guys also has 1,460 calories.

P.F. Chang's Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo -- 1,820 calories and 7,690 milligrams of sodium.

The Cheesecake Factory Pasta Carbonara with Chicken -- 2,500 calories, 85 grams of saturated fat.

The Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake --1,670 calories, 48 grams of saturated fat.

Chevy's Crab & Shrimp Quesadilla -- 1,790 calories, 63 grams of saturated fat.
Bob Evans' Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes -- 1,380 calories, 34 grams of saturated fat.

Outback Steakhouse New Zealand Rack of Lamb -- 1,300 calories, 60 grams of saturated fat.

I would like to give an award for "mindful eating" options. If you have an example of a dish at a restaurant that you love that is a fairly healthy choice, give them credit. Let's give the restaurant public kudos for serving two purposes--helping you to eat more mindfully and watching out for your health.

By Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist and author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully.

www.eatingmindfully.com

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