By Will Dursens

Recently I had the honor of joining my son and his youngest son (my grandson number five) for a late dinner at Applebee’s.

Now for both economic and health reasons I am one who does not eat our very often anymore. A note here – my son was paying for dinner, so the economic part was not a worry this trip out.

Health reasons are another discussion as I do have several health issues including lung, heart, blood pressure and weight. Do I consider myself obese, no, though my numbers say otherwise. But I do understand that I have much weight to remove and unfortunately it is my nature to want to get it moving quicker than what the doctor may recommend and what may even be safe for my other health issues.

Unfortunately, my issues with weight and appearance because of it is darn close to what our grand country is becoming known for – overweight, obesity style living.

Why am I bringing this subject up? Because many times the past few years when I would go out to eat, I would find myself being amazed and almost overwhelmed by the size of the portions presented to a person with their order.

Just looking at what I ordered I knew was maybe the best I could do because I do not do much red meat anymore, Applebee’s had no turkey items and I am not big on seafood or Mexican.

With that said, I ordered the grilled chicken with my two sides being loaded garlic mashed potatoes and cheesy steamed broccoli.

Let’s look at the numbers within that order:

  • Grilled Chicken – 190 calories with 860 mg. of sodium, 40 grams of protein, 0 grams with carbs, and 130 mg. of cholesterol.
  • Loaded Garlic Mashed Potatoes – 440 calories with 840 mg. of sodium, 11 grams of protein, 37 grams with carbs, and 60 mg. of cholesterol.
  • Cheesy Steamed Broccoli – 220 calories with 700 mg. of sodium, 10 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbs, and 45 mg. of cholesterol.
  • Totals of 850 calories, 2,400 mg. of sodium, 61 grams of protein, 46 grams with carbs, and 235 mg. of cholesterol.

First thing I will admit to – it was very, very good!!

Second thing I will admit to – it was not very healthy for me or anyone. And this was one of the better chicken dishes offered.

According to the nutrition listing on the Applebee’s internet site, I found the following:

  • 6 of 8 of the other chicken orders are listed at between 740 – 1,470 calories.
  • 6 of 8 of the other chicken orders list between 2,400 – 3,800 mg. of sodium.
  • 3 of the other chicken orders list at least 150 mg. of cholesterol.
  • 3 of the other chicken orders list at least 100 or more grams in carbs.

Granted, I could have saved a lot in out-of-bounds nutrition numbers if I had had just the steamed broccoli as with the cheese, I would have saved myself 420 mg. in sodium and 39 mg. in cholesterol. As for the potatoes, if I had just the garlic mashed and not the fully loaded garlic mashed (which included bacon bits, cheese and sour cream) I would have saved myself 190 calories, 190 mg. in sodium, 55 mg. in cholesterol and 2 grams in carbs.

As I explained to my wife later in the evening – if I was thinking with my mind and not just my stomach and taste buds, I would have eaten half and then brought the rest of the meal home to have for lunch or supper the next day.

What it did make me realize is that in days gone past when I would eat at a place like Applebee’s it would be nothing to also order an appetizer before the meal which for me normally would mean mozzarella sticks. Those cheesy goodies would automatically add another 860 calories, 75 mg. of cholesterol, a whopping 2,670 mg. of sodium, and 78 grams in carbs.

No wonder folks like myself have ended up with health issues involving the heart and weight.

No matter how often I have gone out to eat in the past few years, each time I have I have noticed that the servings seem to be must out of bounds regarding size of portions and most of all the amount of sodium in particular.

My health issues I pretty much have no salt at home and rely on a solid mixture of various spices and seasonings to give my meals a not so bland taste.

But looking around the restaurant the other night I began to realize just how many other individuals beyond the age of 30-35 seemed to be carrying excess weight and yet were chowing down like I was on the food which on this day was very well cooked and taste oh so fantastic.

It is not just the full-service restaurants either as I have noticed that even the impossible (non-meat) burger from Burger King seemed to be a much larger sandwich than should be necessary. And then of course they push the large size of fries which are not only not very good for you because of the salt, but also because of the fact they are fried.

So, the question to me is – is America being considered so overweight brought on much by the portion size and nutrient contents of the current standards at most restaurants?

Or should the question be – is America being considered so overweight brought on by the easy access to eating out instead of taking the time of cooking and eating at home?

Cooking and eating at home, sometimes it almost seems like a novel idea anymore. But not only should it be more nutritious, but it can also make for a solid time for family if you have kids by getting them involved in the process of cooking the meal.

I learned my lesson once again the other night, I reminded myself that for my health and livelihood I must order better and even if I do or don’t, then I should remember the portion sizes best be telling me to eat half now and take the rest home for a meal on another day.

With that – hugs, prayers, blessings and happy thoughts from Grumpy Gramps.

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