Dining out can be hard, especially when your choices are limited. Being on tour, I realized that diner food is sometimes our only option because it is served 24 hours a day. Because of this, my mission was to try and discover which food choices are the best for me to eat while dining out at one of America’s most famous diners, Denny’s. This is what I discovered:
My general Suggestions are:
Yes: Water, Orange Grove Smoothie, Fit Slam, Egg Whites, English Muffin without Margarine, Grits, Oatmeal, Seasonal Fruit, Low Fat Yogurt, Fit Fare Omelette
No: Milkshake, The Grand Slamwich with hash browns, Lumberjack Slam, All American Slam, Cheddar Cheese Hash Browns, Chicken Sausage Patty, Bacon Strips, Everything Hash Browns with Onions, Cheese and Gravy, Pancake Puppies, Sausage Links, Meat Lover’s Omelette with hash browns and bread, Philly Cheesesteak Omelette with hash browns and bread, Ultimate Omelette with hash browns and bread.
Now lets take a more detailed look at the menu and explain why I made some of my suggestions:
When it comes to having beverages at any restaurant, I almost always suggest going with water. It is a safe choice, it is almost always free, its 0 calories, and it is good for you. YOU NEED WATER!!! with that said, Denny’s offers a variety of beverages to choose from. If you need to have something other than water because you have a crazy sweet tooth going or you are just needing to fill a desperate craving, most of the choices are ok, just be aware that they have high sugar contents. Definitely, however, stay away from the milkshakes. Milkshakes can be tasty and delicious, but the milkshakes at Denny’s have between 580-890 calories, 25-45g of fat (16-20g of saturated fat), 68-113g of carbs, and 55-77g of sugar. To put that into perspective, in 7 Pixy Sticks, which are basically pure sugar, there is 15g of sugar. So in one milkshake there is an average of around 30 pixy sticks of sugar, almost as many calories as a stick of butter, and about the same amount of saturated fat as 4 tablespoons of lard.
Yes: Orange Grove Smoothie
The smoothies are actually not too bad, except for the fact that there are high amount of carbs and sugars. None of the smoothies have any fat and are 270 calories or less. The best smoothie choice is the Orange Grove Smoothie. With only 120 calories, 29g of carbs, and 22g of sugar, this smoothie is the healthiest choice among all of their smoothie options.
Yes: Fit Slam
No: The Grand Slamwich with hash browns, Lumberjack Slam, All American Slam
The Fit Slam is your best choice when it comes to picking one of the ‘Slams’. The Fit Slam has 360 calories, 10g of fat, 30g of cholesterol (incredibly lower than all of the other options), 820mg of sodium (lower than all of the other options as well), 46g of carbs, and 24g of protein. Overall it is not a bad choice for a meal. On the other hand some of the other ‘Slam’ options are down right disgusting when examining the nutritional information. Here is what is in some of the more ‘hearty’ Slams Denny’s offers:
- All-American Slam: 770 calories (590 calories from fat with 65g of fat), 24g of saturated fat, 680mg of cholesterol, 1360mg of sodium, 5g of carbs, and 37g of protein.
- Lumberjack Slam: 1000 calories (540 calories from fat with 60g of fat), 17g of saturated fat, 460mgof cholesterol, 3010mg of sodium, 73g of carbs, and 42g of protein.
- The Grand Slamwich with hash browns: 1530 calories (920 calories from fat with 102g of fat), 45g of saturated fat, 545mg of cholesterol, 3690mg of sodium, 97g of carbs, 52g of protein.
To understand how this relates to the FDA suggested 2,000 calorie and 2,500 calorie diets, please refer to the figure above.
BREAKFAST SIDES/BUILD YOUR OWN GRAND SLAM
Yes: Egg Whites, English Muffin without Margarine, Grits, Oatmeal, Seasonal Fruit, Low Fat Yogurt.
Maybe: Hearty Wheat Pancakes
No: Cheddar Cheese Hash Browns, Chicken Sausage Patty, Bacon Strips, Everything Hash Browns with Onions, Cheese and Gravy, Pancake Puppies, Sausage Links.
The best choices to make for sides are the Egg Whites, English Muffin without Margarine, Grits, Oatmeal, Seasonal Fruit, and Low Fat Yogurt because of their relatively low fat contents and other nutritional benefits such as protein and vitamins. The Hearty Wheat Pancakes I am on the fence about because although 2 pancakes only have 1.5g of fat, 8g of fiber, and 10g of protein, they also have 950mg of sodium and 64g of carbs. If you are not on a low carb diet and are not worried about sodium intake (an athletic person or a body builder for example who may need more sodium than the average person for muscle growth) then I would say they are ok. Definitely stay away from the Cheddar Cheese Hash Browns, Chicken Sausage Patty, Bacon Strips, Everything Hash Browns with Onions, Cheese and Gravy, Pancake Puppies, and Sausage Links, because all of them have relatively high fat contents and bad nutritional value. For instance, 4 sausage links have 30g of fat and 6 pancake puppies have 101g of carbs and 1020mg of sodium.
Yes: Fit Fare Omelette
No: Meat Lover’s Omelette with hash browns and bread, Philly Cheesesteak Omelette with hash browns and bread, Ultimate Omelette with hash browns and bread
The Fit Fare Omelette is pretty decent. Although it may surprise you that an Egg White Omelette has 18g of fat, I still recommend it over all of the other choices because it has the lowest amount of sodium at 870mg, the lowest cholesterol at 65g, and 34g of protein which is a good amount for a meal. Some of the other Omelette choices I would definitely not recommend such as:
Meat Lover’s Omelette with hash browns and bread: 1090 calories (730 calories from fat with 81g of fat), 840mg of cholesterol, 2550mg of sodium, 39g of carbs, 56g of protein
Philly Cheesesteak Omelette with hash browns and bread: 970 calories (630 calories from fat with 71g of fat), 705mg of cholesterol, 2640mg of sodium, 38g of carbs, 46g of protein
Ultimate Omelette with hash browns and bread: 820 calories (550 calories from fat with 61g of fat), 640mg of cholesterol, 1700mg of sodium, 33g of carbs, 33g of protein
I would basically suggest to stay away from most of the breakfast favorites simply because there are problems with most of them in at least one nutritional field. I will admit that I love pancakes and surprisingly the Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast and the Blueberry Pancake Breakfast only have 15g of fat and 12g of fat respectively which is decent for the portion size you receive; however, they too also have some downfalls. Although of all the breakfast favorites I would suggest these two because they do have good qualities with good amounts of protein, fiber, and relatively low fat content, the Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast has 130g of carbs and 1610mg of sodium, and the Blueberry Pancake Breakfast has 1410mg of sodium and 390mg of cholesterol. Some other breakfast favorites have bad downfalls too, such as the Bacon Avocado Burrito with hash brown (65g of fat, 425mg of cholesterol, 2400mg of sodium), the Moons over My Hammy (41g of fat, 530mg of cholesterol, 2320mg of sodium), the Texas Prime Rib and Egg Sandwich (47g of fat, 495 mg of cholesterol, and 1750mg of sodium), and the Country-Friend Steak and Eggs (43g of fat, 415mg of cholesterol, and 1850mg of sodium)
In general, you can see that many of the choices at Denny’s may not be as healthy as you think. I hope my suggestions help you make some healthier decisions when going to eat out at some of your favorite restaurants. Please contact me with any questions of concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.