Calories, Sugar, and Fat, Oh My!

Despite my proclivity for chocolate, maintaining a healthy lifestyle ranks high on the necessity scale. We only have one body. Respect is in order.

In this vein, today’s post experiments a bit. I’m recycling an entry from my deceased public health blog. The one that enjoyed zero-hit days. Given I created the piece and have since closed the site, it’s not plagiarism. But just to be safe, I asked myself permission. Not only did I say yes, I green-lighted modifications for comedic purposes.

The Cheesecake Factory

One of my family’s preferred restaurants is The Cheesecake Factory, or what I like to call “gluttony at its finest.” For those of you familiar with the restaurant, no further explanation is needed. For those who are not, imagine portion sizes that would make a dietitian weep.

Other restaurants harbor a slew of waistline assassins as well, but The Cheesecake Factory is my favorite. The sight of a burrito the size of a log or a salad bigger than my son’s head titillates in its gustatory possibilities.

That’s How Many Calories?

But according to the Calorie Lab, that log-sized Factory Burrito Grande has 1,839 calories and a heap-load of salt. That chicken Caesar salad the size of my son’s head weighs in at 1,510 calories. Or, if you prefer some old-fashioned chicken and biscuits, it will cost you 2,262 calories and 68 grams of fat. As for desert, how about a 1,549-calorie slice of carrot cake or a 929-calorie slice of white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake? Ooh, that one’s sheer heaven.

By the way, the recommended caloric intake for women is 1,800-2,200 calories per day, depending on activity level, and 2,000-2,400 calories per day for males.

Oopsey daisy.

In the restaurant’s defense, they do have a terrific SkinnyLicious menu, all entries under 590 calories. I love the black-bean veggie burger. Yummy yummy in my tummy.

My kind of naughty and nice. (Image credit:

What’s a Consumer to Do?

So does that mean if we eat at The Cheesecake Factory, or any number of other restaurants, we should only choose from the lite menu? Not necessarily, but we should use common sense. If you plan to dine out, balance the rest of your meals that day—and maybe even the next—accordingly. Sharing works, too. Then you can splurge on dessert, because…well…The Cheesecake Factory without dessert? Really?

I believe in moderation. Everything in moderation. Deprivation ultimately backfires. One deserves an occasional meal in an indulgent restaurant as long as it’s balanced with meals at home most days of the week and a conscious calorie acknowledgement.

But be careful. The formula of “calories in equals calories out” is not as simple as it seems. Individual choices do not contribute to health outcomes in a vacuum. The food industry, with its knowledge of just the right combination of fat, sugar, and salt to hook us in and keep us salivating for more, is also responsible. In fact, for an eye-opening discussion of how food manufacturers manipulate these key ingredients to stimulate our appetites and lead us to eat far more than we otherwise would, check out former FDA commissioner David Kessler’s book The End of Overeating. Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. The research impresses.

And disturbs.

Hey, thanks for indulging me. I suspect your comments, or lack thereof, will determine whether I experiment with my blog content again. But it was fun while it lasted…

What about you? What’s your preferred restaurant indulgence? Do you compensate for the calorie overload by eating less the rest of the day? What’s your favorite waistline assassin?

For more information on dietary guidelines, see  from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also, for another eye-opening read, see Eat This, Not That: Avoid America’s ‘Scariest’ Restaurant Meals.

All images from Microsoft Clip Art unless otherwise noted.

151 Responses to “Calories, Sugar, and Fat, Oh My!”

  1. Karen Rice

    That is crazy calories for a salad!!! I’ve never been to Cheesecake Factory either, not sure where one even is near me. I’m sure many people have no idea how many calories their food has – and how simple things like not getting mayo on a burger can save a lot of calories/fat.


    • Carrie Rubin

      I agree–most people have no idea of the calories awaiting them. I know many people think that the listing of calories on a menu won’t make any difference, and to some people it probably won’t. But I suspect for many it will. I know I would refrain from ordering a 1500 calorie salad, or at least make some modifications to it.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  2. thefolia

    Calories…who’s counting? I’m more concerned with food quality, where did it come from, how was it produced…and utterly disturbed with the genetically modified experiments with our health. Don’t go out to eat much because of all this, but I have tried Rock Sugar their drinks are amazing! Same ownership as Cheesecake Factory but the portions are not as gluttonous.


    • Carrie Rubin

      I agree about the food quality. It’s gotten to the point where, although I enjoy a meal out, I often prefer to eat at home. Not only are my meals healthier, but I know what’s in them. I haven’t heard of Rock Sugar. I’ll have to look that chain up and see if there are any near me.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!


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