Quick Bites: Chick-fil-a

Sometimes during the week, as much as we try to meal plan and prep, cooking at home just does not happen. Whether it’s a late day at the office, a Pinterest meal gone wrong, or a hungry child screaming, there are times when eating out on a time crunch is necessary. Especially as a dietitian, I have to give myself grace to realize it’s OK to not have a home cooked meal on the dinner table every night. A healthy lifestyle is truly all about moderation and making healthier choices. With that said, we wanted to start a new series on healthier options at some of the quicker food establishments. Our hope is that we can provide the tools for you to make a more informed decision when eating out. For our quick bites review today, we will look at Chick-fil-a!

In order to discuss healthier options at any restaurant, it is important to set some standards for daily intake before we dive in.

  • Calorie levels differ with each person but it is important you take into account your overall intake for the day while considering age, sex, physical activity level and personal weight goals. If you have any specific questions on what your calorie level should be, feel free to contact us, and we would be happy to provide you with an estimate.
  • As far as fat grams go, it is important to look at the total fat and then determine whether the fat is saturated (the ‘bad fat’), trans fat or unsaturated (the ‘good’ fat).
    • You want to limit your saturated fat intake. Ideally, the goal should be to consume as little saturated fat as possible but try not to exceed 7% of your daily calorie intake from saturated fat.
    •  You should strive to remove all trans fats from your diet.
  • Another area to monitor when eating out is sodium. It is important to remember that a daily goal for most Americans should be 2400 mg/day, and to put it in perspective, one teaspoon of salt has 2300 mg sodium! Most of the time, you can expect food items at restaurants to include a higher amount than what you would consume at home. When eating out, I strive to find a lower sodium food option by looking at the nutritional facts ahead of time.

Here are some recommendations for different food items found at Chick-fil-a. I have broken the list down into menu items to consider and those to avoid if possible. Remember, these are just suggestions and there may be items that I have not listed that are acceptable within reason.

Source: www.thestamp.umd.edu

Source: www.thestamp.umd.edu

Choose: Greek Yogurt Parfait (with granola) – 160 calories, 5gm fat (2gm saturated fat), 14gm sugar, 65mg sodium  *This can be ordered without granola. Most of the sugar is coming naturally from the yogurt and fresh fruit.
Choose: Multigrain Oatmeal (without topping)- 140 calories, 2.5gm fat (0gm saturated fat), 4gm sugar, 45mg sodium *This can be ordered with topping or add fresh fruit for natural sweetness.
Avoid: Chicken Biscuit – 440 calories, 20gm fat (8gm saturated fat), 1210 mg sodium (!)

Choose: Chick-fil-a Grilled Nuggests (8 count) – 140 calories, 3gm fat (1gm saturated fat), 530mg sodium
Choose: Chick-fil-a Grilled Chicken Sandwich – 320 calories, 5gm fat (1.5gm saturated fat), 800mg sodium
Avoid: Chick-fil-a Chicken Sandwich – 440 calories, 18gm fat (4gm saturated fat), 1390mg sodium (!)

Salads and Dressings:
Choose: Chick-fil-a Market Salad (without dressing)- 200 calories, 5gm fat (2gm saturated fat), 570mg sodium
Choose: Reduced Fat Berry Balsalmic Dressing – 110 calories, 4gm fat (0gm saturated fat), 260gm sodium, 16gm sugar  *You are better off using a homemade dressing or watching your portion size even though this is one of the better options available.
Avoid: Avocado Lime Dressing – 310 calories, 32 gm fat (5 gm saturated), 520mg sodium
Avoid: Chick-fil-a Cobb Salad (without dressing)- 430 calories, 22gm fat (7gm saturated fat), 1370mg sodium (!)

Choose: Medium fruit cup – 50 calories, 0gm fat
Choose: Small waffle potato fries (if you have to have fries!) – 310 calories, 16gm fat (3 gm saturated fat), 140mg sodium
Avoid: Large chicken noodle soup – 270 calories, 5gm fat (1.5gm saturated fat), 2000mg sodium (!)  *Remember, soup is not always “healthy.”

Choose: Unsweetened Iced tea (medium) – 0 calories, 0gm fat, 10mg sodium, 0gm sugar
Choose: Diet Lemonade (medium) – 20 calories, 0gm fat, 10mg sodium, 2gm sugar
Avoid: Lemonade (medium) – 230 calories, 0gm fat, 10mg sodium, 58gm sugar (!) *Remember, women should strive to have no more than 25gm added sugar per day and men should have no more than 36gm added sugar per day.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Pin on PinterestEmail to someone


  1. […] have discussed healthier options to choose when eating out at Chick Fil A, Salata and Starbucks.  Now, we continue our Quick Bites series by looking at Jason’s Deli. […]

  2. […] explanation on what we look at when reviewing the menu, check out our original Quick Bites post on Chick fil A. As we have learned by reviewing other places, it is important to analyze the menu to determine […]

  3. […] We are back with another edition of our Quick Bites series, and today, we are looking at one of my favorite places to eat – Zoe’s Kitchen! I love the focus on healthy eating at Zoe’s Kitchen as well as the variety of options. In fact, Zoe’s provides a speciality menu called ‘Simply 500’ which lists the menu items that are already 500 calories or less or those that can be specially ordered to qualify. Also, for those people following specific diets (such as vegetarian, gluten free or vegan), the menu labels which menu items qualify making it easy to decide what to order! I wanted to narrow down the menu even further by taking a look at some of the other nutrients that play a role into what we would consider a healthier meal. As always, there are menu items that may be acceptable that I have not discussed. For a breakdown of what nutrients we look at, take a look at our original Quick Bites post on Chick-fil-a. […]

  4. […] McAlister’s Deli is up next for our continued Quick Bites series! This chain, found across the U.S., has a variety of menu options. But, don’t let the word ‘deli’ in the name trick you, as there are quite a few options on the menu that should be avoided! The ‘choose 2’ menu option is an easy way to have 2 smaller portions of items to make up a healthier meal. For instance, you could have a ‘choose 2 meal’ of the deli turkey sandwich and cup of Fire Roasted Vegetable soup for a meal under 300 calories and 1 gram saturated fat. But, as we have learned, it is important to review the nutritional facts of any dining establishment before eating there. In this case, it would be easy to pick a ‘choose 2 meal’ containing over 1,000 calories just by choosing the smaller portion of the muffuletta! I have broken down menu items to choose and those to avoid, but as always, there are menu items that may be acceptable that I have not discussed. For a breakdown of what nutrients we look at, take a look at our original Quick Bites post on Chick-fil-a. […]

  5. […] and what to avoid when eating at these establishments. Don’t forget to look at our review on Chick-fil-a for the nutritional markers we look for when eating out. Today, we are reviewing a classic place […]

Speak Your Mind