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Guest AuthorBig Box + Dining= Big Calories, Salt

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:11pm

By Kami Gray

I tagged along with a friend recently who was furnishing her new place. We visited Target, Ikea and Costco, which I frequent every so often: Target sells an affordable organic wine I like; Costco sells a decent organic, fair trade coffee; and Ikea sells wine glasses and coffee mugs for less than a buck a piece.

While shopping, I became completely fixated on how well-patronized the big box “restaurants” were. While only a few employees were eating at Target, Costco was packed. Moms were buying hot dogs and ice cream bars for their not-so-little ones to quiet them down. Dads downed Polish Sausages to pass the time. Teenagers wolfed down churros, berry sundaes and tropical smoothies.

Since it was late afternoon, I wondered whether these shoppers were eating their dinner at Costco or just staving off hunger to be followed by a Costco-sized dinner.

At Ikea, same thing. Dozens and dozens of shoppers were lined up in the restaurant waiting for Swedish meatballs, boiled potatoes, gravy and lingonberry jam. I’m guessing that the average serving size was about 20 meatballs. I saw a lot of empty plates.

What I didn’t see was nutritional information revealing just how many calories are in the “food” served at these places. Some cities – such as Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles – are trying to force restaurants to provide nutritional information including number of calories and fat grams directly on their menus.

How about a little reality check on a few popular items? Check out Target’s Nachos with Cheese!

COSTCO (Hebrew National) Hot Dog
530 calories, 32 grams of fat, (14 grams, saturated) 1,530 mg of sodium (64% of RDA of sodium)

COSTCO Polish Sausage
570 Calories, 32 grams of fat, (12 grams, saturated) 1,570 mg of sodium (65% of RDA)

COSTCO Churro
430 Calories, 18 grams of fat, (5 grams, saturated) 450 mg of sodium (19% of RDA)

IKEA Meatballs
240 Calories, 13 grams of fat, (5 grams, saturated) 450 mg of sodium (17% of RDA) (This is for the six meatball dish and doesn’t include boiled potatoes and Lingonberry jam, which adds 334 calories.)

TARGET Barbecue Chicken Sandwich
867 Calories, 25.7 grams of fat, (9.5 grams, saturated) 915 mg of sodium (38% of RDA)

TARGET Nachos with Cheese
1,101 Calories, 59 grams of fat, (18.5 grams, saturated) 1,580 mg of sodium (66% of RDA)

Target and Costco nutrition information found at Calorie King.
Ikea nutrition information found at the Daily Plate.

Kami Gray is author of The List: Sixteen Simple Habits for a Smaller You (and a Healthier Planet), Published by New World Library, due in stores Spring 2009. For more information, visit http://blog.thelistbykamigray.com.

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