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Skinny Picks: Eating Healthy at Chick-fil-A Fast Food Restaurant

Posted Aug 23 2011 12:47pm

The things I do for my loyal Easy Skinny Life readers!  After a glass of wine and a ton of coaxing, I walked into a fast food restaurant for the first time in ages to assess the healthiest options to eat at cult favorite Chick-fil-A, a fast food chain with a huge following.

What’s the healthiest entree item to eat at Chick-fil-A?

Skinny Pick’s Lesser of Evils:  Chargrilled Chicken Cool Wrap WITHOUT Ranch Dressing or Spicy Dressing

  • Multi-grain wrap with grilled chicken, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes and shredded cheese

The small wrap itself is a multi-grain flatbread fortified with protein and extra fiber.  It’s bulked up the “fake” way, but it’s still better than the no fiber options of white rolls or wraps.  And this entire reasonably tasty wrap with grilled chicken and crunchy vegetables is only 400 calories, while low in fat, high in fiber and high in protein at over 30 grams.

The bad news:  Sneaky sugar is at 8 grams and it has a horrific salt total of 1290 milligrams.  Holy Cow!  (Pun on their mascot intended).  Sugar, salt, preservatives and rice starch is added to every perfectly fine plain ol’ piece of Chick-fil-A’s chargrilled chicken, so there is no escaping it for any of the Skinny Picks.  Imagine what’s on their popular fried versions.

Skinny Pick’s Second Choice Lesser of Evils:   Chargrilled Chicken and Fruit Salad or the Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad

At around 200 calories and over 600 milligrams of sodium, both of these salads were surprisingly fresh looking for a fast food place.  The dressing is the killer in sugar and sodium of course, but that chicken has it too.   Skip all of the processed packets of dressing and ask for a lemon to squeeze on the salad or just top your chicken with a little plain yellow mustard.  If you want the dressing, the Light Italian Dressing is your best bet with 15 calories, 150 milligrams of salt and 2 grams of sugar, but it still contained syrups in it.  Ick.

The Reduced Fat Berry Balsamic Dressing has 70 calories, with only 2 grams of fat.  It clocks in at a reasonable amounts of added salt at 150 milligrams, but that “berry flavor” in it increases sugar to 12 grams.  Sneaky sugar alert!  Although I typically go for Balsamic Dressing, I take a pass when fruity flavors are added.  It’s syrup, not real fruit.

Since the salad wasn’t filling enough and didn’t taste good without the salad dressing, it’s in second place.  Why eat something that you don’t enjoy?  It’s make life feel like a “diet”.  No thanks.  If you bring it home, use your own pure olive oil, lemon and spices easy-to-make dressing.

Lesser of the Remaining Evils:  Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich

A more traditional Chic-fil-A meal, this sandwich contains a comparable amount of calories, sugar and protein as the Chargrilled Chicken Cool Wrap.  The grilled sandwich comes on a golden wheat bun.  Keep in mind this is not whole-wheat by a long shot, with mostly refined white flour with little fiber.  Sodium is over 1000 milligrams!  The one isn’t worth it to me, but for those of you who worship the sandwiches at this place, it’s your best alternative to the Chargrilled Chicken Club Sandwich, fried Chicken Sandwiches or Spicy Chicken Sandwiches.  Skip the BBQ sauce packet that comes with it, too.  Add some plain yellow mustard or hot sauce if you need a kick to it.  It’s the only condiments served at the place without hordes of syrup or food coloring in it.

Healthy Side Items:  Side Salad and a Fruit Cup are available and both were nutritionally sound with no added sugar.  Again, watch any salad dressing.

Vegetarians can order both a large Fruit Cup and a Side Salad, but there is no protein source whatsoever other than a little cheese.  You will be starving again before you walk out the door of the place.  I suggest you ask very, very nicely for a nut blend packet from their oatmeal, but just use the roasted almonds.  Pick out the sugar glazed candied walnuts and pecans.  And say no to the dried sugary fruit.  And NO to “vegetarian” waffle fries please!

As a note to those who insist on eating the fried classic sandwich, at least Chick-fil-A cooks their chicken in 100% refined peanut oil with no trans fat.

Why do I avoid fast food restaurants?  Well, I can prepare a grilled chicken at home with two ingredients — chicken and pepper.

Here is the ingredient list for the so-called healthy alternative of a grilled chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-A:

Chicken (100% natural whole breast filet, water, seasoning [sugar, salt, dextrose, garlic powder, onion powder, maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast extract, spice, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, flavor, paprika {color}], seasoning [salt, sugar, spices, and paprika], butter oil [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, TBHQ and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color], rice starch and potassium phosphate), wheat bun (enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, sugar, wheat bran, cracked wheat, yeast, sugar cane syrup, contains less than 2% of the following: wheat gluten, rolled whole wheat, soybean oil, salt, rye meal, dough conditioners [contains one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium stearoyl lactylate, monoglycerides and/or diglycerides, calcium peroxide, calcium iodate, DATEM, ethoxylated mono-and diglycerides, azodicarbonamide, enzymes], calcium sulfate, honey, molasses, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium sulfate, calcium propionate [to retard spoilage]), tomatoes, green leaf lettuce, pickle (cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, lactic acid, calcium chloride, alum, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1).

Enough said….

And forget breakfast at the place.  You have your pick of either a butter-laden biscuit or a refined white-flour tortilla.   At least there is a new Multigrain Oatmeal offered, but with its glazed nuts, dried fruit and brown sugar added, it’s better to eat at home.  I’d need to be dragged kicking and screaming back there in the sober clear light of the morning.

Still, I understand the cult of followers.  It’s an addictive flavoring of frying, salt and sugar.

Every once in a while is fine for any food.  But ask yourself this:  Do you want a truly Easy Skinny Life, or do you want a life with continual health problems and scales that won’t budge?  What does that laundry list of manufactured fake ingredients in one little chicken breast do inside our bodies?  Don’t make life harder on yourself by becoming addicted to the flavors and additives of processed, fast food.

I promise that all of my whole, natural and delicious foods taste so much better since I kicked the habit.

Chick-fil-A owners may be spiritual enough to close every Sunday, but they don’t treat my pure body as a temple! 

 

 

 

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