If you're watching your fat, cholesterol and sodium intake, The Cheesecake Factory -- popular for its specialty entrees, gourmet burgers and array of cheesecakes -- may seem like a forbidden zone. A typical meal can top 1,200 calories with over 40 grams of saturated fat and more than 700 milligrams of sodium. The Cheesecake Factory isn't unusual: The National Consumers League warns the majority of restaurants serve high-fat, high-sodium food in oversize portions. If you're aware of a few basic healthy eating guidelines, however, you can have a meal at The Cheesecake Factory without blowing your nutrition plan.
Order a salad from The Cheesecake Factory's Skinnylicious menu, such as the Skinnylicious Factory Chopped Salad, but request that all high-fat, high-starch ingredients such as bacon, bleu cheese and corn be left out to bring the calorie total down from 570 calories per salad to approximately 317 calories. Ask for the salad to be served with the dressing in a container on the side for even fewer calories and less sodium.
Choose a Skinnylicious menu appetizer that is rich in vegetables and low in calories and fat, such as the Edamame or the Charred Shishito Peppers, which contain just 140 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat per serving. Keep your sodium intake under control by asking that your appetizer be prepared without salt and that all sauces be served on the side.
Consider ordering a heart-healthy fish appetizer such as the Skinnylicious Ahi Carpaccio, which contains 250 calories. Split the appetizer between two people for fewer calories per serving. Avoid the Ahi Carpaccio if you are pregnant or nursing: Ahi tuna is high in mercury.
Pick a Skinnylicious menu fish or poultry entree, such as the Skinnylicious Grilled Salmon, which contains 570 calories and 732 milligrams of sodium, or the Skinnylicious Grilled Chicken, which has 560 calories. Request that your meal be prepared without salt or added sauce for less sodium.
Ask for your meal to be served with additional fresh vegetables. Avoid adding salt at the table.
Request a to-go box and pack up half of your meal once it has been served if the portions are too large.
For a beverage to accompany your Cheesecake Factory meal, drink water or a sugar-free drink such as unsweetened tea instead of soda or beer. Order a glass of wine if you would like an alcoholic beverage.
The Cheesecake Factory's Skinnylicious menu does not include any low-calorie dessert options. You can ask if the chef is willing to prepare you a small bowl of fresh fruit, or choose one of the low-calorie cocktails from the Skinnylicious menu. Examples include the Skinnylicious Cosmopolitan or Margarita, both of which contain 150 calories.
Be aware that even the foods on The Cheesecake Factory's SkinnyLicious menu are high in sodium: A typical appetizer may have over 1,000 milligrams of sodium, while an entree can contain over 1,200 milligrams. A healthy adult should limit herself to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day; an adult on a sodium-restricted diet should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams daily.