10 Food Court Dishes You Should Never Eat


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Food Court Fails

While the mall food court can be a welcoming place where fatigued shoppers eat to their heart’s content, there are plenty of items you'd be wise to avoid. That suspicious-looking corn dog lazily rolling on a hot dog roller could leave your stomach in ruins. Or you could send your blood sugar levels into a state of disarray if you make a habit out of ordering extremely sugary "fruit smoothies."

Here's a look at 10 dishes you should avoid during your next food court outing — even if they're some of your favorite post-shopping snacks.

Hot Dog Picnic on White Bench

1. Hot Dogs/Corn Dogs

Don’t get me wrong. There’s always going to be something immensely satisfying about parking yourself on a food court stool and wolfing down a couple hot dogs. But it comes at a price.

Not only is processed meat considered a carcinogen, but the buns are often made up of refined white flour, and don’t contain the kinds of vitamins and/or minerals that you could benefit from if you opted for a whole grain bun instead. You should also be mindful of the extra sugar you can end up eating if you douse the hot dog in ketchup, relish, or mustard. 

Cinnamon buns
Olivia Free/istockphoto

2. Cinnamon Rolls

The magnetic allure of Cinnabon is criminal. It’s honestly wild how ubiquitous Cinnabons are at malls across the country. However, you’ve got to remember that your typical cinnamon roll from Cinnabon has an astounding 880 calories. 

Then there's the additional 1,150 milligrams of sodium, the 37 grams of fat (16 grams saturated), the 129 grams of carbs, and the 61 grams of sugar. This is not the kind of “snack” you want to hold you over in between stores. 

Photography By Tonelson/istockphoto

3. Sushi Rolls

Do we even have to say it? Eating raw fish at a mall food court is a risk you do not want to take. Plus, your average sushi roll is going to be stuffed with white rice, which has a high glycemic index and can contribute to blood sugar spikes. If you’re someone who enjoys your sushi with soy sauce, you’ll also end up consuming extra sodium in the process. Bottom line? Stay away from sushi at the food court.

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Mixed berry frappe on white background isolated.

4. Smoothies

If you assume that fruit-packed smoothies are a healthy option, you're not alone. But these brightly-colored drinks are often also brimming with sugar — and lots of it. 

Many food court smoothies are blended with sweeteners, ice cream, or sugary yogurts. Sure, there are plenty of healthy smoothie options out there, but make sure that you do your due diligence when it comes to scanning the ingredients that are being fed into that food court blender. 

Related: 10 Homemade Smoothies Better and Cheaper Than Chain Versions

Chicken Wings

5. Chicken Wings

I get it. There's never a bad time to eat chicken wings. However, wings — and the equally tasty sauces they are tossed in — can end up being loaded with fat, sodium, and sugar. The frying process that goes into making those steaming plates of goodies causes the wings to act as sponges, soaking up all those unhealthy fats and oils. Still craving chicken? Opt for a food vendor that serves grilled chicken instead.

Related: The 8 Most Popular Costco Food Court Items, Ranked

French fries with ketchup and cocktail sauce

6. French Fries

French fries are one those side dishes that are dangerously easy to overconsume. It’s crucial to remind yourself that french fries are packed with trans and saturated fats, which can run a nasty number on your overall health. In fact, these kinds of fats can heighten your risk for boosting your body’s cholesterol level — something that no one wants to get out of a food court visit.

Related: 8 of the Best Frozen French Fries, Ranked

Boxing Up the Pizza

7. Pizza

You’re going to have a hard enough time finding appetizing pizza options at your average food court. If you can't resist the urge to chow down on a couple cheesy slices, you might as well wait until after the mall and pick up a better frozen pizza from the grocery store. 

Need another reason? Pizza crusts are often made with white, refined flour, which is rich in simple carbs devoid of fiber and nutrients. You’ll find yourself navigating a terrible rollercoaster of quick energy rises with terrible energy dips.

Italian Meat and Cheese Roll

8. Premade Sandwiches

While convenient to grab when you're caught up in the rush of a busy day, those sandwiches that were made and wrapped up days ago can be a nightmare on your stomach — or, worst-case scenario, cause food poisoning. While those sandwiches might look appealing enough, there's no telling whether some of those ingredients (like the veggies, condiments, etc.) have exceeded their expiration dates. It's just not worth the risk. 

If that isn't enough to do away with your desire to grab a sandwich from the food court, just note that your typical deli sandwich can be absolutely terrible for your heart health

Nachos and Melted Cheese.

9. Nachos

Yes, nachos are irresistible. Between the cheeses and toppings and the crunch of tortilla chips, the ingredients really do play off one another in perfect harmony. However, the cheese can massively elevate the overall saturated fat content of your nachos, while the deep-frying process for certain nacho dishes can also contribute to additional fat levels. Lastly, your typical plate of food court nachos is going to be monstrously sized. It's just a bad move all around.

Isolated on a white background, Turkish doner or durum is a fast food with meat and salad wrapped in a flatbread. Unhealthy and greasy food

10. Burritos

Sure, there are burrito options out there that won’t put your body through the gauntlet. But many of the traditional food court burrito options aren’t going to take this into account; you can end up consuming half a day’s worth of calories in some of these burritos. If you have a chance, opt for smaller tacos instead.