“Healthy” Restaurant Meals Can Be Even Worse For You Than Hitting The Drive-Through

It’s no secret that dining out can be a poor choice for your health. A chain-restaurant entrée can be shockingly full not only of flavor but also of fats, calories, and sodium.

On the heels of a new study, the folks over at Time have been comparing sit-down restaurant meals to options from the drive-through, and the results aren’t pretty. Even the “healthy” options on a restaurant’s menu may be higher in the bad stuff than you think.

Researchers from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania studied over 2500 menu items at chains like Olive Garden, TGI Friday’s, and Red Lobster. In news of the “sky up, water wet” variety, the research team found that dinner at any of those eateries is likely to exceed the recommended calories, sodium, and saturated fat levels for a single meal:

Federal guidelines recommend adults eat around 2,000 calories daily and children consume around 1,400 calories. The researchers found that meals with an adult entrée, side dish, and a shared appetizer averaged around 1,495 calories, with 28 g of saturated fat, 3,312 mg of sodium, and 11 g of fiber. If a drink or dessert were added, the total tipped 2,000 calories.

Time also notes that over half of the menus the team looked at somehow classified a percentage of their offerings as healthy or healthier options, but that the meaning of “healthy” varies widely from restaurant to restaurant.

Of course, there are ways to mitigate the damage. Skipping the appetizer and taking half the entrée home in a doggie bag will significantly drop the number of calories consumed in a single meal.

But skipping dessert might just be crazy talk. Chocolate cake forever!

Is Olive Garden Healthier Than McDonald’s? Maybe Not [TIME]