03/28/2008 02:48 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Don't Eat At The Mall: What To Avoid When You Return Your Gifts

During this cold, depressing time of year, when holiday festivities are over and you have a bunch of useless junk to return, the local mall takes over for many of us as the town square of yesteryear. We head there nearly every weekend looking for fun, entertainment, camaraderie and nourishment. Well, you can find a lot of these things at the mall these days, but nourishment is not one of them. The mall is in fact probably the second worst place on earth to buy food, the first being any type of local fair. We don't care where you live - every mall in America seems to have the exact same vendors, and these jerks are taking advantage of their monopoly by selling us the worst crap imaginable for approximately five times what they're worth. Below, we have listed a sampling of the most evil kinds of mall food in an effort to convince you to find your sustenance elsewhere.

1. Cinnabon

You may have already heard us rant about Cinnabon, but we will risk redundancy if it means drilling it into your heads one more time to never, ever eat Cinnabon! These things have 800 calories each, which is by far more calories than you should consume in a typical meal, not to mention a snack. We know they smell like delicious cinnamon heaven, but so do those obnoxious candles they sell in makeshift carts in the middle of the mall, and those are fat-free. One more reason to never eat Cinnabon - they are beyond messy, sticky and gooey. The frosting has the consistency of glue, and that is the last thing you need all over your hands before you go try on clothes. Save the sticky fingers for another time.

2. The Cheesecake Factory

Lots of malls want to offer you real food, too, and so they stick a giant Cheesecake Factory in there. Thanks a lot. Have you ever noticed that no matter what time of day it is or how empty the restaurant may be, you still have to wait at least an hour to be seated at any Cheesecake Factory? We think it is a conspiracy to make them look cooler, and we don't like it one bit. Plus, of course, their food is completely ridiculous. Their new "weight management" salads have about 600 calories each. We don't even want to know what's in the other fun salads. You've all heard about their carrot cake that has more calories than a Big Mac, but we also want to tell you that one slice of their chocolate mousse cheesecake has 780 calories and a piece of their Southern Pecan Cake has 960. So do your shopping and then go have dinner outside of the mall. Your body will thank you.

3. Auntie Anne's Pretzels

We don't know whose aunt Anne is, but we feel bad for him or her. No, these pretzels are not as bad for you as a Cinnabon, but they do have (on average) 350-450 calories each, and that's before you add dipping sauces or any of that nonsense. This is way more calories than a pretzel should ever have. Plus, they never really taste as great as you expect, do they? They've always been sitting out a bit too long, or at least they taste like they have. We'd rather spend the same amount of money on an entire bag of pretzels at the supermarket, because that giant bag will also have the same amount of calories as just one of Anne's. Oh, and we're not going to even waste our time talking about their pretzel dogs, because you already know better than that.

4. Fake Chinese Food

The brands vary coast to coast but you know exactly what we're talking about here - the fake Asian cuisine that is really fast food. It may be fast Chinese food, but it is still fast food, and that means you shouldn't eat it. This stuff is just coated with oil and grease, not to mention even scarier ingredients like MSG and high fructose everything. After we eat this stuff, we always want to take either a shower or a nap and the mall is not a good place for either of these things. You've been warned.

5. Orange Julius

We're not picking on this Julius kid - every juice or smoothie chain out there is guilty of the same thing. They trick you into thinking that you're being good to your body by ordering a giant Styrofoam cup filled with slushy sugar, and it's just not true. The drinks at Orange Julius run from 200 calories for a small OJ to 800 for a large strawberry banana. Someone please tell us why you would want to waste all those calories on a beverage! You'll still be hungry the minute you find the restroom and pee it all out, so do us all a favor and eat a freaking piece of fruit when you get home from the mall, instead.

For more tips, pick up a copy of How To Eat Like A Hot Chick: Eat What You Love, Love How You Feel by Jodi Lipper and Cerina Vincent. In stores everywhere from Collins books.