It’s funny how after you’ve been eating low-carb for a while, you look at food differently than you did before.
Looking over the high-calorie entrees pictured in the Xtreme Eating Awards 2011 (PDF file) from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), I notice the carbs first, which come in the form of bread, buns and fries. There’s also a pasta dish and a porterhouse steak accompanied by a big serving of mashed potatoes.
The accompanying text from the CSPI focuses on the calories, saturated fat and sodium content of the menu items. For instance, according to the CSPI, the Cheesecake Factory burger shown above — which is topped with pork belly and a fried egg — contains 1,530 calories, 36g saturated fat, and 3,210mg of sodium. The fries add another 460 calories and 1,460mg of sodium.
So, the burger and fries combo would provide nearly a 2,000 calorie lunch.
I agree with the CSPI that 2,000 calories is a big lunch. It’s too big for me. That’s as many calories as I eat in an entire day.
Then there are the carbs, which the CSPI fails to consider. This is not a low-carb lunch. The carbs in a large bun could easily total 30 grams and in a large pile of fries 60 grams. Of course, there would be some fiber; let’s say 10 grams, being generous. As a low-carber, I’m not eating a lunch with 80 net grams of carbohydrates. Or even half that many.
Odds are, I’m never ordering this item. However, for the sake of discussion, let’s pretend I have a coupon for a free Farmhouse Cheeseburger. Let’s also pretend that there’s a Cheesecake Factory restaurant within an hour’s drive of my house.
For starters, I’d order my Farmhouse Cheeseburger sans bun and fries. Then I’d only eat the pork belly, egg, lettuce and tomato for lunch, and take the cheeseburger home for dinner.
The saturated fat is a little higher than my usual total for lunch and dinner combined, but only a little. The sodium is higher than I’d like, but recent research has raised questions about how dangerous salt intake is for most of us. I’d risk it once.
Because, of course, you don’t eat a Cheesecake Factory Farmhouse Cheeseburger every day.
I’m sure the CSPI knows that.
I always order burgers without the bun and trade the fries for salad greens or steamed veggies. Never had a problem getting what I ask for when I go to a restaurant.
Most places want your business, and are willing to make reasonable accommodations to keep it. I just saw a post on another blog about Red Robin providing lettuce-wrapped gourmet burgers with salads instead of fries: http://lowcarbchefblog.com/?p=233