Ham and Cheese Omelet
The Count: 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: 1,012 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: 858 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: 1,240 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.
The Count: 1,191 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.
The Count: 1,182 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: 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.
The Count: (one large) 742 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) 707 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.
The count: 838 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: 405 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.