Order This, Not That: Chick-fil-A

Learn what to order and what to avoid at Chick-fil-A.

This super-popular chain opened in 1946 and has grown to become one of the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chains in the United States. Chick-fil-A currently has over 2,000 locations in 43 states, and its sales in 2015 exceeded $6 billion. However, before you think ordering fast-food chicken is healthier than other options, check out the calorie and sodium bombs you may be eating.

Classic Sandwiches and More

Order: Grilled Nuggets

If you’re looking to keep the sodium under control, your best bet is to order an eight- or 12-piece grilled boneless breast of chicken as an entree with your choice of dipping sauce. With a salad or fruit cup on the side, it’s a well-balanced meal that won’t break the salt or calorie bank.

Per serving (12-count): Calories 200; Fat 4.5 g (Saturated 1.5 g); Sodium 800 mg; Carbohydrate 6 g; Protein 34 g

Not: The Spicy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich

The Spicy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich is made with boneless chicken breast seasoned with spicy peppers served on a buttered bun with dill pickle chips, lettuce, tomato and pepper Jack cheese. The sodium in this sandwich is 76 percent of the recommended daily amount. You can order the sandwich on a whole-grain bun, which would help boost the 3 grams of fiber.

Per serving (with regular bun): Calories 570; Fat 27 g (Saturated 8 g); Sodium 1,750 mg; Carbohydrate 47 g; Protein 35 g

Wraps and Salads

Order: The Grilled Market Salad

You’ll get four food groups in this salad — protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables — for a reasonable amount of calories, fat and sodium. This menu item is made with sliced grilled chicken breast served on romaine lettuce and baby greens and topped with shredded cabbage and carrots, red and green apples, strawberries, blueberries and crumbled blue cheese.

Per serving: Calories 320; Fat 14 g (Saturated 3 g); Sodium 26 g; Carbohydrate 26 g

Not: Cobb Salad

Although this salad’s calorie count of 500 isn’t too terribly high, it contains close to a whopping 60-percent of the daily recommended dose, much of it coming from the sodium bacon, cheese, and dressing. If you’re craving a salad, you’d be better off with any of the other salad options instead.

Per serving: Calories 500; Fat 27 g (Saturated 7 g); Sodium 1,360 mg; Carbohydrate 27 g; Protein 40 g

Sides

Order: Side Salad

A whopping 90 percent of Americans don’t eat enough vegetables, but adding a simple side salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, carrots and cabbage can easily up your daily consumption. This side salad also contains shredded cheese, which can help you meet the recommended three daily servings of dairy (most folks take in only two servings). Be sure, however, to choose vinaigrette dressing and use about two tablespoons max.

Per serving (without dressing): Calories 80; Fat 4.5 g (Saturated 3 g); Sodium 110 mg; Carbohydrate 6 g; Protein 5 g

Not: Waffle Potato Fries

Although you may be jonesing for crispy fries with your chicken sandwich, the combo can send your calories and sodium over the top.

Per serving (for large size): Calories 520; Fat 27 g (Saturated 4 g); Sodium 240 mg; Carbohydrate 63 g; Protein 6 g

Desserts

Order: Icedream Cone

Need something cold for dessert? Opt for a small cone of vanilla ice cream, which will keep portion size and artery-clogging saturated fat in check while still providing you with a serving from the dairy group.

Per serving (small cone): Calories 170; Fat 4 g (Saturated 2 g); Sodium 115 mg; Carbohydrate 31 g; Protein 5 g

Not: Strawberry Milkshake

This old-fashioned milkshake topped with whipped cream may bring back memories, but it will also pack on the pounds. The fat and calorie counts of the chocolate and vanilla flavors aren’t much better. .

Per serving (strawberry): Calories 570; Fat 21 g (Saturated 13 g); Sodium 380 mg; Carbohydrate 85 g; Protein 12 g

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of  The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day .

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