What Not to Eat: Are These Foods Worse than You Thought?

Deep Dish Pizza

Don’t get us wrong. Pizza with a hand-tossed or thin crust is no diet food. At BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, California Pizza Kitchen, or Uno Pizzeria & Grill, for example, you’re looking at roughly 1,000 to 1,500 calories in a single-serve pie.

But if you order an Uno individual or BJ’s small deep dish pizza, you can count on 1,500 to 2,000 calories. Bonus: most come with 1 to 1½ days’ worth of saturated fat (20 to 30 grams) and at least a two-day supply of sodium (3,000 milligrams). And deep dish means a deep pile of white flour…to go with your brand new deep belly fat.

Instead: Eat no more than half of an individual thin crust pizza topped with veggies.

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Burritos

It doesn’t much matter what kind of burrito you get. You start with a 300-calorie (mostly white flour) tortilla and pick beef, steak, pork, chicken, or tofu (each around 150 to 200 calories), then add rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, and/or guacamole (100 to 200 calories each). Good luck taking home fewer than 1,000 calories.

That’s Chipotle, but Qdoba is Qomparable. Ditto for sit-down restaurants like On The Border (except they add 300 to 500 calories’ worth of beans and rice on the side).

Instead: Get chicken or tofu (“Sofritas” at Chipotle) plus beans and salsa on a salad (best bet) or over brown rice.

Loaded Pasta

Mac & cheese is everywhere, but it’s not alone.

Panera offers a selection of pastas like Pesto Sacchettini and Tortellini Alfredo. A full serving averages around 800 calories. (The Mac & Cheese’s 980 still holds the record, though.) Your bowl of white flour, cheese, oil, and maybe cream delivers 10 to 26 grams of saturated fat and 1,300 to 2,900 milligrams of sodium. Mmm.

A full serving of any pasta at Noodles & Company averages about 800 calories, and at Corner Bakery about 900.

Instead: Skip the pasta. If nothing else will do, order a small (at Noodles & Company) or a half order (as part of a You Pick 2 at Panera or a Corner Combo at Corner Bakery) plus a salad. Skip the bread on the side.

Agave

Some people who would cross the street to avoid high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) buy agave instead. Yet agave syrup is 82 percent fructose; HFCS is usually 55 percent fructose. Go figure.

Butter

Have you gone back to butter because you’re afraid that margarine has trans fat…or because you’ve heard advice based on a flawed meta-analysis?

In fact, plenty of tubs—like Country Crock, Earth Balance, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, Olivio, Promise, and Smart Balance—are made without partially hydrogenated oil, so they’re trans-free. They’re mostly soybean or canola oil plus enough palm or palm kernel oil to solidify them (and to give them about 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon).

Some companies—like Country Crock, Earth Balance, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!—even sell sticks with zero trans. They need more palm or palm kernel oil to make them more solid, so the saturated fat rises to 2½ to 4 grams.

In contrast, a tablespoon of butter has 7 grams of saturated fat plus half a gram of trans.

Yogurt Coating

Even at some Whole Foods you can find bins of yogurt pretzels, yogurt malt balls, and yogurt almonds. Tip: real yogurt can’t coat anything. Assume that the “yogurt” in coated foods is like the “yogurt” in candies like Ocean Spray Craisins Greek Yogurt Dried Cranberries—mostly sugar and palm kernel oil. It’s a 30-year-old scam that still has legs.

Other relevant links:

• Meals to Avoid at Noodles & Company. See: Ever Tried Noodles & Company?

• Unless you plan on biking for 5 ½ hours to burn off the calories, avoid these individual pizzas. See: What Not to Eat: BJ’s Signature Deep Dish Pizzas

• Find out more about various types of sugars. See: Sugar by Any Other Name

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