Making Choices: Burger vs. Salad
You’re heading out to eat, you’re trying to eat better. What should you order, a burger or a salad? The following are two items from the menu of a well known restaurant chain. Which of these has fewer calories?
Don’t always assume the salad is going to be the best choice. Of these two items pictured here, the chicken salad has a whopping 1310 Calories and 95g of fat. The burger and fries comes in at 1510 Calories and 85g of fat.
Wait a sec, the burger IS worse than the salad.
Well, barely. If you sub in a side of veggies or fruit for the fries, the Calories drop to under 1200 and the fat drops down to 66g.
Ok, but there’s FRIED chicken on that salad, what if I ask for grilled instead?
Good idea! Most places, assuming they have grilled chicken, will let you make such a substitution. But in this case, it doesn’t help much. The grilled chicken version of the same salad is still 1250 Calories and 76g of fat. The burger with veggies still beats this by 100 Calories and 10g of fat.
With the burger, it’s pretty obvious where most of the Calories are coming from. Besides the ground beef itself, there’s the cheese, sauteed veggies, and a huge, white flour bun. With the salad, if you sub in grilled chicken, you know where nearly half of the remaining calories come from? The dressing. This same salad, without the dressing clocks in at 590 Calories, a drop of over 650 Calories. What’s more, you lose over 50g of fat.
And so you don’t think I just picked on this particular salad, nearly all of the salads on this menu ranged from about 900 up to just over 1300 Calories, with the exception of a couple that were specifically marketed under the Weight Watcher name which were under 400 Calories each. I have a feeling they were also much smaller portions than the other full-sized salads.
To their credit, they also offered half-portion salads, so by making sure you go for the grilled meats versus fried, ordering a half-size portion, and maybe asking to sub in one of the dressings from those Weight Watchers salads, you could get a decent lunch in the 350-500 Calorie range. Or if you’re really craving a burger, get the regular burger with fresh lettuce and tomato on it, veggies on the side, and only eat half the burger, saving the rest for another meal. That should keep you under the 400 Calorie mark. A bit more if you really want cheese on there.
Taking the time to read the menu descriptions, think about your options and requesting some simple substitutions can help you make Positively Healthy choices, even when dining out.