What not to eat at Red Lobster?

I recently checked out the menu including the nutrition facts for Red Lobster.  Click here for the PDF.  Whoa, while there are some healthy options, buyer beware for many options there.  Below is a sample appetizer with salad and main course:

Appetizer:  Crispy calamari with vegetables: 1830 calories and 4,720 mg of sodium

Salad:  Classic Ceaser:  520 calories and 1,050 mg sodium

Main course:  NY Strip with Lobster Tail:  1,140 calories and 2,360 mg sodium

Total =  3,490 calories and 8,130 mg sodium!

Considering the adequate intake (click this link for the definition of adequate intake) for sodium is 1500 mg/day for under 50 years of age, 1300 mg/day for 50-70, and 1200 mg/day for 71 and over, 8,130 mg is mind boggling (and this doesn't include what you ate the rest of the day)!  Upper tolerable limit is 2,300 mg/day, but this number is not a recommendation to aim for just the upper limit. 

If you remove the appetizer you'll cut your calories and sodium by about half, but the meal is still loaded with calories and sodium.

What to eat there?  The fresh fish options were all under 500 calories and the sodium was moderate too (except for the lobster dishes).  I get it, most of us want to enjoy a meal out and NOT think about sodium and calories.  I agree, from time to time, why not, right?  The question is, would you make some changes with your selections if you knew the calories and the sodium where off the charts?  Particularly if you are trying to manage a health condition?  Some research suggests if you make your selections online prior to going to the restaurant, you'll make better choices, and I'd have to agree.  Most chain, but not mom and pop restaurants, will have calories online and some in the restaurant.

Let's be honest, Red Lobster is not alone, try checking out some other menus online of your regular eating spots and see what you find. 

Yours in great health!

Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist