By Dana Leigh Smith&Stephen Perrine
We’re ringing in the New Year with funeral bells for some of the very worst restaurant dishes.
There are a lot of horrible things we’d like to forget about 2015, and we’re not just talking the time your dad tried to whip and nae-nae. Truth is, the past 12 months have felt like one long lesson in the uncertainty of the future and the tenuousness of the present.
But 2015 gave us a lot of things to celebrate, as well: the awesomeness of Adele, the magic of Pope Francis, the hilarity of Bitmojis, and the entertaining bizarreness of the Republican primaries.
The editors of Eat This, Not That! have some things to celebrate as well: the overdue vanquishing of some dreaded dietary demons. From 1,200-calorie chicken sandwiches to pasta dishes with more than a day’s worth of sodium, we’re saying goodbye and good riddance to some of the worst foods of recent years. And if you’re feeling motivated to slim down after you’ve seen just how bad these popular restaurant meals were on the waistlines of America, be sure to check out these 22 Best Teas for Weight Loss.
1. McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Deluxe
Considering it carries twice as many calories and two times the fat of Ronald’s classic cheeseburger, we’re pretty stoked to see this souped-up sandwich get the axe. However, if you were sad to see your go-to order go to burger heaven, ask for a classic cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun (instead of the naked one it normally comes with) and have them throw on some lettuce, too. The result will be a lunch with a similar taste for a fraction of the calories. Of course, the patty will be smaller, but that’s what makes it a healthier pick. Looking for more better-for-you eats from the Golden Arches? Check out our exclusive report, Every Menu Item at McDonald’s—Ranked!
2. Applebee’s Chicken Broccoli Pasta Alfredo
If you happen to have a copy of our 2015 edition of our Eat This, Not That! book, you already know that we named this waist-widening dish a “Not That.” With that said, we’d like to think we had a little something to do with its demise! How could a dish filled with broccoli be so bad? Thanks to the creamy sauce and huge pile of noodles, it packs over 1,000 calories, two days’ worth of saturated fat, and more sodium than a human should consume in a whole day. If you’re looking for a starchy dish from Applebee’s that’s kinder to the waistline, get the Pepper-Crusted Sirloin and Whole Grains. It has just 350 calories and 10 grams of fat—a far better choice for your belly. In fact, we love the dish so much that we named it one of the 25 Best Restaurant Meals Under 500 Calories!
3. Chili’s Monterey Chicken
From burgers to baby back ribs, Chili’s serves up some of the country’s saltiest, fattiest fare. And even the menu items that don’t look all that bad for you can do some real damage to your waistline. A prime example: The Monterey Chicken, which carries 940 calories, more fat that two orders of large McDonald’s fries, and a whopping 3,560 milligrams of blood pressure-raising sodium. Needless to say, we all rejoiced the day we learned this dish had been sent to the graveyard.
4. Dairy Queen Iron Grilled Turkey Sandwich
This year we said goodbye to DQ’s 550-calorie turkey sandwich. How they packed so many calories into an innocent lunchbox classic we may never know, but what we do know is that America is now a safer place to live and eat. And speaking of making safer choices for your diet, be sure to check out these 50 Best Supermarket Shopping Tips Ever.
5. Applebee’s Steak Sizzling Skillet Fajitas
Sure, a plate filled with steak, veggies and condiments may seem like a safe enough choice, but remember, restaurant chains are sneaky. This stealthy nutrition bomb has more than two days worth of sodium, more calories than five Wendy’s Junior Hamburgers, and more fat than 14 strips of sizzling bacon. Hands down, this is one of our favorite vanishing acts. And speaking of sneaky restaurant manoeuvres, check out these 25 Things Fast Food Chains Don’t Want You to Know
6. Friendly’s Citrus Grilled Chicken Sandwich
It’s may be called Friendly’s, but the popular chain’s fare is far from friendly to your belly. Sure, grilled chicken is usually a sensible sandwich filler, but Friendly’s managed to make this smart-sounding sandwich platter into a diet disaster. Any entree that has 1,250 calories, an entire day’s worth of salt, and more fat than 12 BK Chicken Strips is one we’re more than happy to bid farewell to.
7. Jack in the Box Meaty Breakfast Burrito
The problem with breakfast wraps is not just the extra empty calories from the burrito, it’s that the thick doughy carb blanket provides the structural integrity to house extra heaps of cheese, meats and sauces. In this case, the result is a tiny egg wrap with more calories than you’d find in three Krispy Kreme Original Glazed donuts! That said, we’re pleased to report that this is one dish that’s never coming back from the dead. Looking for a healthy a.m. alternative? Check out these 50 Best Breakfast Foods for Weight Loss—Ranked.
8. Uno Pizzeria&Grill Chicken Milanese
Uno proves that when put into the wrong hands, a simple baked chicken dish can transform from a light and healthy choice to one that you shouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. This former restaurant item packed 850 calories and a whopping 56 grams of waist-widening fat. Consider yourself lucky if you never got a chance to try it. And for those of you who are sad to see it go, next time you find yourself at Uno’s, order the Baked Spinoccoli Chicken instead. Topped with feta, mozzarella, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, garlic and basil, this is a tasty—yet skinny—dish that gets our stamp of approval. And if you plan to wash your meal down with a soda, make sure its one of the better ones for your bod with the help of our exclusive report, 38 Top Diet Sodas—Ranked!
9. Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger
Scoring a decent meal at Wendy’s is just about as easy as scoring a bad one, and that’s a big compliment to pay a burger joint. Options such as chili and apple slices offer the side-order variety that’s missing from less-evolved fast food chains. Plus, Wendy’s offers a handful of burgers that stay below 400 calories…but this defunct pretzel-inspired option isn’t one of them. With nearly 700 calories and traces of dangerous trans fat, this bad boy of the burger world deserved to lose its place on the menu board.
10. Chick-Fil-A Cookie Sundae
What has more sugar than three Snickers ice cream bars? This now-dead deadweight dessert from Chick-fil-A. If you find yourself looking for something sweet from the chicken baron, the Icedream soft serve cone is your best bet. Since it comes without the cookie crumbles, chocolate syrup and whipped cream, it has 140 fewer calories than the sundae and saves you 14 grams of the sweet stuff. It’s not what we’d consider “healthy,” but it’s certainly the best dessert option at the chain. Looking for more ways to keep unnecessary calories off of your plate? Then check out these 30 Things to Do 30 Minutes Before Bed to Lose Weight.
11&12. McDonald’s Honey Mustard & Chipotle Barbecue Snack Wraps
By definition, a snack is a small amount of food eaten between meals. And nine out of 10 nutritionists will tell you a snack should have no more than 200 calories. So we may never know why Ronald calls these extinct wraps a snack. The crispy chicken variety packs 340 calories, and the grilled ones come in at the 260-calorie mark. And while we’re glad to see these two flavors get the boot, that doesn’t change the fact that there are still four other versions of this calorie-filled mini-meals being sold. Our advice: If you can’t help but order one, stick with a grilled variety, pair it with a side salad, and consider it a complete meal. And when it comes to snacking, reach for one of these 25 Best High Protein Snacks In America.
13. Panera French Onion Soup Bread Bowl
When Panera cut French Onion Soup from its menu earlier this fall, the internet went into a tizzy. In fact, it would be fair to say that they were downright furious. Us on the other hand? We let out a sigh of relief. When poured into the fast-casual chain’s oversized bread bowl, the soup ladled out nearly 900 calories and a shocking 152 grams of carbs! Our nutritionist friends would so not approve! If the French onion soup was your fave, consider this a happy problem in your life—and fill up your bowl with one of their healthier stews. To find out which ones are best, check out our in-depth report on the chain, Every Soup and Sandwich at Panera—Ranked!
14. Starbucks Valencia Orange Refresher
Although we’re big fans of the Bux, there’s a fair share of their menu items we’d love to see get the boot. For now, though, we’ll settle for this 2015 victory. The Valencia Orange Refresher, which had 30 grams of sugar in a 24-ounce serving, was discontinued in early July, much to its loyal fans’ dismay. (People loved the drink so much, in fact, that there was a petition to save the beverage from its demise with nearly 2,500 signatures!) If you’re looking for something healthy to sip at the chain that’s not black coffee, how about a cup of tea? To find out which options are best for a flat belly, check out our guide to weight loss tea.
15. McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken Sandwich
In an effort to streamline its processes and boost profits, McDonald’s cut a number of their chicken sandwiches from their menu early in 2015, including this salty, 470-calorie belly bomb. The southern-style fried chicken breast filet was served on a bun with pickles…and globs of butter. With so many sources of fat sandwiched between its two buns, it’s pretty surprising it only had 21 grams of fat! (Which, to be clear, is still quite high.) And speaking of fat, not all of it is bad news for your belly and health. In fact, some types can actually help you slim down. To find out what they are, check out these 20 Best Full-Fat Foods for Weight Loss.
Images for items 1, 3, 5, 10, 13, and 14 are courtesy of Flickr.