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Healthier Alternatives to Restaurant Menu Creations

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Popular chain restaurants have to compete every day for the attention of potential diners, so menus can become quite creative.

In fact, some restaurants have introduced wild new concoctions.

Dave Zinczenko, author of the best-selling series, Eat This, Not That, and ABC News’ nutrition and wellness editor, appeared on Good Morning America Friday to talk about unusual menu items at IHOP, Denny’s and TGI Friday’s, as well as the healthier choices you can make to save yourself some calories, fat and sugar.

Dave Zinczenko’s ‘Eat It to Beat It’

1. IHOP: The red velvet pancakes (on the menu for a limited time at some restaurants across the U.S.), contain 800 calories and 61 grams of sugar -- more sugar than you’d find in two Giant Pixy Stix.

The ‘Eat It to Beat It’ Alternative:  IHOP’s Belgian waffles and a side of bacon contain 490 calories and 11 grams of sugar.

2. TGI Fridays: Crispy green bean fries will run you 900 calories and 65 grams of fat. That’s as much fat as 4 ½ Big Macs.

The ‘Eat It to Beat It‘ Alternative:  Try TGI Fridays’ Spinach Florentine flatbread instead. It has 380 calories and 22 grams of fat.

3. Denny’s: The macho nacho burger has 860 calories, which is more calories than you’d get from six bowls of Cocoa Puffs without milk.

The ‘Eat It to Beat It‘ Alternative: 
Denny’s chicken avocado sandwich with fresh veggies will run you 490 calories.

All three restaurants told ABC News that they offer a variety of dishes so that their customers can make an informed choice. Read full statements from the companies below.

IHOP:  At IHOP, we believe in offering our guests a wide range of choices. That is why you can find at least one item in every category on our menu designated as part of our Simple and Fit offerings, which are all under 600 calories. In addition, every item on our Just for Kids menu is under 600 calories and served with a side of fruit.

TGI FRIDAYS:  TGI Fridays provides a variety of menu options, so guests can choose the right food for their experience. Whether guests want something indulgent, something to share with friends or want to keep it on the lighter side, we have something for everyone to enjoy the Fridays experience.

DENNY’S:  As America’s Diner, we pride ourselves on offering a wide variety of menu options to ensure we have something to satisfy every guest that walks through the door. While we’re renowned for our spin on all-American classics, such as the popular Macho Nacho Burger, we are also dedicated to offering guests healthier alternatives with our selection of Fit Fare menu items which are lower in fat and calories, and higher in protein and fiber. Dishes like the Fit Fare Chicken Avocado Sandwich are becoming increasingly popular with our guests who want to enjoy eating out without having to compromise on taste, budget or dietary preference.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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