Sometimes, the craving for pasta, salad, and breadsticks comes calling. Yes, that is a very specific craving, but you know what it's really about: your heart (and stomach) is aching for some Olive Garden. Whether you're able to dine at the Italian restaurant chain or you place a takeout order, there's no wrong way to get your OG fix. But there is a wrong meal to eat.
You don't want to end up ordering the worst Olive Garden menu item, right? Well, there is one dish that is truly bad news, as it's simply the unhealthiest option. You obviously always want to be mindful when you're eating a meal you didn't make yourself since you don't want to sabotage your weight-loss efforts (and your waistline) on just one meal. (Check out What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Smoothie Every Day to uncover more about what one meal can do to you!)
Related: A former Olive Garden employee shares the 'secrets' of working there
So what is the worst menu item at Olive Garden? Well, it's the…
Tour of Italy
1,680 calories, 104 g fat (54 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 3,290 mg sodium, 105 g carbs (9 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 83 g protein
This pasta dish is made up of three OG classics that you are served up, all on one plate. The Tour of Italy meal is made up of Olive Garden's Chicken Parmigiana, Lasagna Classico, and Fettuccine Alfredo. While this might seem like the ideal choice for someone who is rather indecisive and wants to try a little bit of everything, you're going to want to think twice about eating this entire dish by yourself.
See, it's the classic entrée that packs the most amount of calories at 1,680. The average person should consume around 2,000 calories for the entire day—this one dish is nearly wiping out all of your calories! (Note, we're not taking into account the limited-time menu item, the Giant Chicken Parmigiana, which has a staggering 1,790 calories, as it isn't a permanent entrée option.)
Not only is this Tour of Italy dish highly caloric, but it's high in everything. It serves up a whopping 104 grams of fat and a shocking amount of sodium, coming in at 3,390 milligrams. Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends most adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. This one meal has nearly a day and a half's worth of sodium—big yikes. Not only can eating overly salty foods often lead to weight gain, but it's been proven that high sodium intake is associated with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. So it's important to always watch your sodium for your overall health.
This dish also has two grams of trans fat, and it's no secret that seeing trans fat is alarming. Trans fat lowers your HDL levels—your good cholesterol—and can trigger chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The 2015-2020 American Dietary Guidelines limit trans fats to as low as possible, which means you shouldn't be having any in your daily diet. Avoid meals that have them! (Looking for more helpful tips? Well, your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!)
What should you order from Olive Garden instead?
When you're ordering from OG, it's best to keep things light, and the Herb-Grilled Salmon that clocks in at 460 calories and is served alongside parmesan garlic broccoli is one of your best bets. Another solid option is the Shrimp Scampi, which is the only dinner entrée that has less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium.