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National Pancake Day, Hop Past Free IHOP Stack

Celebrate National Pancake Day

Tuesday, February 28, is National Pancake Day, and part of the tradition includes a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes offered by IHOP to help raise money for charity. If you value your health, however, you might want to hop past that free IHOP stack and consider some alternatives (and still be charitable), and not all of them involve food.

The short stack is long on fat and salt

First let’s discuss the nutritional data surrounding the free short stack of buttermilk pancakes offered by IHOP. According to the company’s website, the three pancakes weigh in with 490 calories, 160 fat calories, 18 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 80 mg of cholesterol, 1,610 of sodium, 69 total carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.

Consider the fat content of the pancakes. The recommended amount of fat for adults is 20% to 30% of your daily caloric intake, which means if you eat a diet of 1,500 calories per day, you should take in between 30 and 45 grams of fat daily, but most of that fat should be healthy fat.

The American Heart Association recommends less than 7% of total fat calories should come from saturated fat, which means if your acceptable intake of fat is 45 grams, only 3.1 grams should be saturated fat. The buttermilk short stack has 8 grams of saturated fat, plus 1 gram of the significantly unhealthy trans fat, which is more than the recommended limit per day (1% of total fat calories, or 0.45 grams).

The American Heart Association also has recommendations concerning cholesterol. Healthy individuals should consume less than 300 grams of dietary cholesterol per day, while anyone who has heart disease should have less than 200 mg per day. The 80 mg in the short stack takes a significant dent out of a person’s daily allowance.

The US Dietary Guidelines recommending limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day, and note that 60% of adults should limit their sodium to 1,500 mg per day. One short stack surpasses the limit for 60% of adults and provides nearly three-quarters of the limit for others.

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National Pancake Day
National Pancake Day is associated with Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday (already celebrated on February 22). On Shrove Tuesday, the tradition is to eat pancakes made from foods that were traditionally restricted during Lent, such as sugar, fat, flour, and eggs.

IHOP began its National Pancake Day festivities in 2006 and has raised nearly $8 million for charities in the communities in which they operate. The goal this year is $2.7 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals © and other designated local charities.

How to celebrate National Pancake Day

For those who want to support this cause but not consume the free short stack of pancakes, there are other options:

  • You can make a donation at IHOP without making a food purchase
  • You can make a donation at IHOP and select a healthier food item, such as one of the Simple & Fit omelettes. The veggie omelette with fresh fruit provide a mere 320 calories, 10 grams of total fat, and 1 gram of saturated fat. Steer clear of the cheese blintzes, however: 1,000 calories without toppings and 69 grams of fat. The Viva La French Toast Combos weigh in heavy as well: 900 to 1,300 calories, 45 to 73 grams of fat, and that’s without the sides of meat
  • You can hop by IHOP altogether and donate to your favorite charity.
  • You can choose to volunteer at one of your favorite charities in your community. Volunteers are the life blood of many charities, especially in these hard economic times when monetary donations are down

You can still celebrate National Pancake Day, even if you hop past IHOP and its offer of free buttermilk pancakes. Choose a healthier breakfast, perhaps eat at home, and help the charity of your choice in your own way.


American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
IHOP website and nutritional information

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