Food & Nutrition

12 Restaurant Foods with More Sugar Than a Candy Bar

Cheesecake Factory Barbeque Ranch Chicken Salad

Spoon with white sugar on the dark backgroundAlexander Prokopenko/Shutterstock

“While salads may always seem like a healthy choice, this one racks up 59 grams of sugar,” says Julie Harrington, RD, a culinary dietitian in Morristown, New Jersey. “Added sugar sneaks in with the barbecue sauce. Typically, two tablespoons of barbecue sauce can add 16 grams of sugar.”

Eat this instead: “Opt for southwest flavors, and enjoy a bowl of the Chile Lime Chicken Tortilla Soup with only 3 grams of sugar and 19 grams of filling fiber.” Add a tossed green appetizer salad with balsamic vinegar dressing, and your meal in total contains just 11 grams of sugar.

TGI Friday’s Red Velvet Sparkler Cake

Red Velvet Cake, homemade bakeryChalermsak/Shutterstock

This cake is packed with a startling 146 grams of sugar, not to mention 1,690 calories—nearly a day’s worth. “This is slightly less than the maximum recommended amount of sugar for a woman to consume over an entire week,” says Kristen Smith, MS, RD, a spokesperson for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Atlanta. “The large portion size of cake, candy toppings, and ice cream it’s served with are likely some of the contributors to the high sugar amount.” Here are 20 foods that are never worth the calories.

Eat this instead: “For a lower sugar and portion-controlled option, order dessert from the children’s menu,” advises Smith. “At TGI Friday’s, this is where you will find the dessert option containing the lowest amount of sugar. Choose the vanilla ice cream, but beware it will still set you back 39 grams of sugar, which exceeds the daily maximum amount recommended.” Order the two scoops sans chocolate or caramel sauce, and you’ll lower the dessert’s sugar content by a good amount.

Chick-fil-A Strawberry Milkshake

Glass of tasty smoothie on grey tableAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Talk about a sugar bomb: A large strawberry milkshake contains 103 grams of sugar. This isn’t a surprise, given that the milkshake’s second ingredient is sugar—and the dessert contains other sugar sources, including whipped cream, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. “All the milkshakes at Chick-fil-A have at least 59 grams of sugar,” notes Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, a dietitian in St. Louis, MO.

Eat this instead: Order a small Ice Dream Cone, with 17 grams of sugar. “You still get the creamy ice cream but in a smaller portion,” says McDaniel. “And eating ice cream in a cone, versus in a drink, provides crunch factor. People tend to get pleasure out of a variety of textures. It’s also possible that the cone will take you a bit longer to enjoy and savor, compared with slurping down a drinkable dessert.”

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