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Xtreme eating awards: And the winner is?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has announced its seventh annual Xtreme Eating Awards, and as usual, there are some eye-popping, belt-busting, and artery-clogging stats behind these oversized restaurant meals. Some of this year’s biggest offenders are dishes even savvy diners might not suspect:

  • Despite healthy ingredients like mushrooms, arugula, and tomatoes, the Bistro Shrimp Pasta from the Cheesecake Factory has more calories (3,120) than any other entree on the menu. It even has more calories than the cheesecake. Loads of butter and cream in the sauce deliver 89 grams of saturated fat.
  • There are more than 1,460 calories and 22 teaspoons of added sugar swirled into a large Peanut Power Plus Grape Smoothie from Smoothie King.
  • The Cheesecake Factory makes a second appearance in this year’s awards with the Crispy Chicken Costoletta: a single dish that has more calories and fat than an entire bucket of KFC Original Recipe Fried Chicken. A bucket of 12 pieces has 2,550 calories. Chicken Costoletta tips the scales at 2,610 calories.

Other orders that could quickly send you up a dress size:

  • The Bacon Cheddar Double from Johnny Rockets has 1,770 calories, more than three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with cheese. It also packs 50 grams of saturated fat and 2,380 milligrams of sodium.
  • Also from Johnny Rockets, the Big Apple Shake, which mixes a piece of apple pie into a vanilla milkshake, has 1,140 calories, 37 grams of saturated fat, and 13 teaspoons of added sugar.
  • With 2,710 calories, 45 grams of saturated fat, and 3,700 milligrams of sodium, the Veal Porterhouse with red potatoes from Maggiano’s Little Italy is like eating four Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizzas.
  • Country-Fried Steak & Eggs from IHOP packs almost a full day's worth of calories and fat right into breakfast -- 1,760 calories.

“Years ago, if you went out and splurged, you ruined your diet for the day. With items like this, you’re ruining your diet for the week in some cases,” says Jayne Hurley, RD, a nutritionist at the CSPI who worked on the list. “A lot of these chain restaurants, to be fair, do have a healthy or light section on their menu,” Hurley says, “but it’s like less than a handful of items. And then they’ve got pages of these 2,000- and 3,000-calorie monster meals.” “Clearly, restaurants need to work on doing a menu makeover and slenderizing some of these,” she says. The National Restaurant Association says that’s already happening. According to its 2013 industry forecast, over 85% of adults say there are more healthy options at restaurants than there were two years ago. Restaurant Disputes Numbers A representative from the Cheesecake Factory says the nutrition information for its two entrees is not correct as reported by the CSPI and should be:

  • Bistro Shrimp Pasta: 3,020 calories, 79 grams of saturated fat, and 1,076 milligrams of sodium.
  • Crispy Chicken Costoletta: 2,560 calories, 86 grams of saturated fat, and 2,767 milligrams of sodium

The CSPI stands by its numbers, saying it received them from the chain's corporate office. Nutrition information about the meals is not on the restaurant’s web site. Sensible Tips Looking to keep it light? David Katz, MD, MPH, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, offers these tips for keeping your calorie counts down when dining out.

  • Stick to water at the table.
  • Fill up with a green salad to start. “The bigger the better,” Katz says. Ask for oil and vinegar or vinaigrette dressing on the side.
  • Look for dishes that are grilled, broiled, or baked.
  • Keep sauces, which can contain surprising amounts of fat and calories, on the side and use them sparingly.
  • Split the entree. “If the meal is just plain huge, eat half and save half for another day,” Katz says.
  • Do some detective work. Look up the nutrition information online and decide what you’re going to order before you get to the restaurant.

SOURCES:The Center for Science in the Public Interest: "Xtreme Eating Awards 2013."Jayne Hurley, RD, nutritionist, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, D.C.David Katz, MD, MPH, director, Yale Prevention Research Center, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. © 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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  • Responding to concerns about personal security for lawmakers after last week’s gun attack at a Congressional baseball practice, U.S. House leaders are moving to provide extra money to members for protection back home, as well as new funding to bolster the work of police and security officials on Capitol Hill. Under a plan approved by a House spending subcommittee on Friday, the Congress would provide an extra $7.5 million next year to the Capitol Police for an “increased security posture” around the Capitol, along with $5 million to the House Sergeant at Arms to help with security for lawmakers back in their districts. “We are taking a new fresh look at security,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), the Chairman of subcommittee that deals with funding for the Legislative Branch. Our FY18 Legislative Branch funding bill increases efficiency & transparency in Congress, enhances security for Members & our constituents. pic.twitter.com/FI36tF2XeH — Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) June 22, 2017 “The tragic events of June 14 weigh heavily on these deliberations,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which could vote on the extra money as early as this next week. Also being put into motion is a separate plan to funnel an extra $25,000 to each member of the House – about $11 million in all – to help them increase security back in their districts. “The scariest part for us is there used to be this impression by the public that we all had security everywhere we went,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). “Now, everyone knows that isn’t the case,” Ryan added, as he lent his support to the extra funding for security as well. The money in this budget bill would not take effect until the new fiscal year – which starts October 1 – so, House leaders are ready to okay extra money immediately for members worried about security back in their districts. Roll Call newspaper reported that could be approved in coming days by the House Administration Committee. Yoder said Congressional leaders are also waiting to see if money raised in campaign contributions for House elections could be put to use for security as well. “Pending an FEC (Federal Election Commission) decision, we’re also looking at whether campaign funds could be used to continue to support security upgrades at personal residences,” Yoder added.
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