Watch those hidden calories!

How many articles have you read about hidden calories? The idea is that we go out to a restaurant, order something “healthy” off the menu, but unbeknownst to us, the plate is absolutely peppered with calories too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Take this article from — you guessed it — the Center for Science in the Public Interest. They looked at restaurant food (again) and have produced yet another gripping, eye-opening piece of journalism. Here are three of many foods they reviewed:

  • Ruby Tuesday Colossal Burger (two large patties, bun, and melted American and Monterey Jack cheese): 1,940 calories and 141g fat.
  • Romano’s Macaroni Grill Twice-Baked Lasagna With Meatballs (six layers of pasta stuffed with meatballs, three cheeses, and Bolognese sauce): 1,360 calories, 38g fat.
  • UNO Chicago Grill Pizza Skins (deep-dish pizza with mozzarella, mashed potatoes, crispy bacon, cheddar, and sour cream): 2,050 calories and 48g fat.

And they’re complaining about hidden calories? Now, if they had discovered a green salad with a spritz of vinegar containing two thousand calories, then yes! that would be newsworthy of the title “hidden calories”. But come on. Did anyone out there actually believe ordering a deep-dish pizza with mozzarella, mashed potatoes, crispy bacon, cheddar, and sour cream was a diet food?

Okay, I’ll grant that most people probably wouldn’t have guessed two thousand calories. But none of us would have deluded ourselves into thinking we “did good last night.”

Their idea for fixing this horrible problem is to put the nutritional data on the menu. Don’t hold your breath, people. The first restaurant to do that will drive customers away to the nearest restaurant who doesn’t do that: even if it’s the exact same food. Who would order from a menu that essentially said:

  • Ruby Tuesday Colossal Burger (poison)
  • Romano’s Macaroni Grill Twice-Baked Lasagna With Meatballs (poison)
  • UNO Chicago Grill Pizza Skins (poison)

And what exactly do they expect? That every restaurant in every country on the entire planet will serve nothing but green salads with spritzes of vinegar? Of course not. Most of the time the whole reason we’re going out is because of the unnecessary calories. Yes, our nation is overweight. Yes, we have some fundamental underlying problems. But it’s not because Ruby Tuesday sells a big hamburger.

If you feel the need for a 2,000 calorie meal, go ahead. Once or twice a year is perfectly okay. Heck, you’re probably already doing it on the fourth Thursday in November anyway. However, if you find yourself eating the Colossal Burger five nights a week, well, then we have another issue. Either way, I’m not going to blame Ruby Tuesday.

Now, who’s up for some pizza?

3 Responses to “Watch those hidden calories!”

Jennifer said
September 19, 2008 at 8:23 am

The problem is even if I know ahead of time what something is, it may not stop me from ordering it when I get there! There is a lunch place by my office that has the best deep fried chicken tenders with a pound of fries and this fantastic Copenhagen mustard (which they sell there and is like 200 calories for 2 tablespoons). I think I figured it was about a 1,000 – 1,500 calorie meal. So, even going in and getting a salad, I have been known to say “Can I have the chicken fingers with fries?? Ugh!

Biz said
September 19, 2008 at 11:49 am

I am going to attempt to make deep dish pizza in my cast iron skillet – yum!

Charlie said
September 19, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Ooo… I’ll be right over.