Food on the Run: Chick-fil-A

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Today we add another installment to our ongoing series, Food on the Run.

Based on reader's suggestions, this week we take a look at Chick-fil-A. Our goal remains to highlight healthier menu items that are around 250 calories or less and less than 10 grams of fat per serving.

There are several new things to this week's entry that I think many of you will appreciate.

Chick-fil-A includes diabetic exchange information, so I have provided that information as well. This can be helpful for those using this system to monitor intake. It also serves as an educational tool for others related to the food groups that food selections come from. Also new to our feature this week is a "cautions to consider" section to provide some additional educational insights.



Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich
Calories - 260
Fat - 3 grams
Sodium - 1300 mg
Carbohydrates - 33 grams
Fiber - 7 grams
Protein - 27 grams
Diabetic Exchanges - 2 carbohydrates, 3 very lean meats


Chargrilled and Fruit Salad
Calories - 210
Fat - 6 grams
Sodium - 860 mg
Carbohydrates - 20 grams
Fiber - 4 grams
Protein - 22 grams
Diabetic Exchanges – 1 vegetable, 1 fruit, 3 very lean meats, 1 fat

Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad
Calories - 170
Fat - 6 grams
Sodium - 860 mg
Carbohydrates - 10 grams
Fiber - 4 grams
Protein - 22 grams
Diabetic Exchanges – 2 vegetables, 3 very lean meats, 1 fat

Southwest Chargrilled Salad
Calories - 240
Fat - 9 grams
Sodium - 750 mg
Carbohydrates - 17 grams
Fiber - 5 grams
Protein - 25 grams
Diabetic Exchanges – 4 vegetables, 3 very lean meats, 1 fat

Side Items

Fruit Cup
Calories - 100
Fat - 0 grams
Sodium - 0 mg
Carbohydrates - 26 grams
Fiber - 3 grams
Protein - 1 gram
Diabetic Exchanges – 1 fruit

Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup
Calories - 240
Fat - 7 grams
Sodium - 1670 mg
Carbohydrates - 30 grams
Fiber - 2 grams
Protein - 15 grams
Diabetic Exchanges – 1 carbohydrate, 1 vegetable, 1 very lean meat

Side Salad
Calories - 70
Fat - 0 grams
Sodium - 110 mg
Carbohydrates - 5 grams
Fiber - 2 grams
Protein - 5 grams
Diabetic Exchanges – 1 vegetable, ½ fat


Fat Free Honey Mustard Dressing
Calories - 60
Fat - 0 grams
Sodium - 210 mg
Carbohydrates - 14 grams
Fiber - 1 gram
Protein - 0 grams

Light Italian Dressing
Calories - 15
Fat - .5 grams
Sodium - 580 mg
Fiber - 0 grams
Protein - 0 grams

Cautions to Consider

I am going to add this new section to reviews when there are additional thoughts to share. In this case there are several. The first is that wraps are a new thing popping up in many restaurants. They can be an option to consider or they can be a trap for larger portion sizes, hidden fat and more calories than you would expect. In the case of wraps at Chick-fil-A, they are not bad but do exceed our 250 calories/less than 10 grams of fat review goals. These wraps tend to be around 400 calories, 2-16 grams of fat and over 1200 mg of sodium. So if you have a lunch nutrient budget that permits a splurge, these could be an option for you but be sure to make an informed decision.

The second caution I will offer is related to things that seem like they would be a healthy choice on first glance but require a second look to be certain. At first glance you would suspect that a Carrot & Raisin Salad would be a good side item to select. They are fruits and vegetables after all. However, in this case, the added fat makes it less than ideal because of its 200 plus calories and 12 grams of fat. Coleslaw is another side item that can be tricky depending on how it is made. Coleslaw at Chick-fil-A is definitely not a vegetable choice to make due to its whopping 600 calories and 51 grams of fat.

Chick-fil-A can be a place to stop now and again and offers some healthier options. However, sodium is high and can really take a bite out of your daily sodium allotment, so planning may be necessary to help minimize your daily overall intake.

As we have seen in our ongoing series, sodium at fast food places is our biggest obstacle. How do you adjust your daily food intake when you plan to or have eaten a fast food meal?

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Thanks! Report
BECKY_US 4/23/2017
grilled chicken nuggets and a superfood salad - minus dressing and dried cherries.. VERY HEALTHY ...and maybe a stevia sweetened light lemonade if really wanting to splurge ;) Report
I agree with JAWATKINS, love those grilled chicken nuggets; they are a great snack after a work out. Report
My favorite is their new grilled nuggets! Paired with a side salad, I leave feeling "healthy"! Report
Thank you for including the sodium. So many of us need that information. Report
"A man who will eat a dead chicken will do anything"
óGraffiti Report
Chick-fil-a is a great place to eat on the run. I always get a salad or the chargrilled chicken sandwhich. And yes, you have to be careful of dressing sizes--just like everywhere you go. But they put this corn and black bean with a bit of sauce in the southwest salad, and I have found that by mixing that real well throughout the salad, I don't need any dressing at all. And the berry balsamic is very reasonable--but I never use a lot. I let my kids make a choice--they can split a regular sandwhich and get a fruit cup, or they can split a chargrilled sandwhich and then they are allowed some waffle fries. That way, they are only eating one fried thing. The do prefer the regular sandwhich and fruit cup. (I should mention they are 5 and 3, and are incapable of eating a whole sandwhich.) Report
Our town has recently gotten a Chic-Fil-A, and I have been surprised by the choices that I have found there. The side salads are great! I love the fact that they are a bit more fleshed out than most side salads, with even a little broccoli! I have tried the honey mustard and the berry balsalmic dressing choices and found them both to be very flavorful. Anyone having a full-sized salad choice should be aware that the packets are generous and do offer two servings. For the side salads, a single serving is definitely sufficient. I have even had one of the regular Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, a side salad and a small fruit cup for around 600 calories, which I had budgeted in for my day, and felt like I'd had a real "splurge" although it didn't set me back from my goals.

I'm disappointed at some of the other options, especially the cole slaw. However, although I love cole slaw, I generally tend to avoid it at ANY chain or restauraunt, because there are so many healthier dressing choices that still make great cole slaw. For example, if anyone has seen the vidalia onion dressing, I think it makes a wonderful slaw and it's very low-calorie compared to other options. Report
I love the choice of a wheat bun. I think that every restraunt and fast food place should offer it. And I also think that like Chick-fil-a they should put their nutritional information on their website. Report
Thanks for the info Report
I just absolutely love chik fil a. I have not found one thing on their menu that I dislike. Unfortunately, one just opened up near me that is less than 10 minutes away. So now I make that my Friday treat. So I have to think about healthier choice since I am there more frequently. Report
I'm sorry, but I find it very hard to believe that a small cup of coleslaw has 51 grams of fat! Seriously?? OMG. That just doesn't sound right to me. Anywho, I love Chick-Fil-A. They rock!! Report
I love Chic-fil-a! I normally get a wheat bun with the chicken and a fruit salad. When I get the salads they really do have a lot of vegetables. Report
Out of all the fast-food establishments, I would have to say that Chick-fil-A is one of the best. Of course, you still need to be smart about your choices. I have tried the chargrilled chicken sandwich, the chargrilled chicken salad, the chargrilled and fruit salad and the southwestern chargrilled chicken salad and ALL are absolutely wonderful. Now with that said, I ONLY use the fat-free and/or low-cal salad dressings and I typically leave all the extra's (mayo, creamy dressings and sauces) off. Just doing that makes such a difference in your calories and fat intake.
For me, I can eat just about anywhere now. I have learned how and what to choose and eat and stay within my limits, keeping it healthy. It is a matter of learning. People laugh at me know because I can spout off caloric/nutritional information about food because I have been tracking for a year now. Though I will have to say, that when I started my weight loss journey, I only ate at home (except for Applebee's occassionally because of the weight watchers menu). It was easier to keep track until I learned how to do it myself.
Good Luck everyone! Report
I thought Chik fil la was just fried chicken junk food. The char grilled options sound great. Report
When I'm out marketing 3 days a week I rely on Chick Fil A. Good to know the grilled chicken and fruit cup fit in - that's what I usually get. Report
Thanks, my husband loves Chick-Fil-A. I love knowing what to get when we do go out without eating a full days worth of calories in one meal.

As far as the MSG, that isn't good but I think pretty much everywhere uses it and it is in most packaged foods. Many people actually cook with it,
Ac`cent is MSG just in case anyone didn't know. Monosodium glutamate also known as sodium glutamate so check your nutritional information, although many processed foods do not list it or simply add it as spices. Because the fda has not required them that they have to yet. Report
I do like to stop there occasionally....maybe a few times a year. I especially appreciate that they have the nutrional value lists right in the store. I've saved mine so that I can use it to plan wisely before going. It is so true that "cole slaw" sounds like it should be a good choice...good thing I had the guide and didn't order it. Thanks for the info on fast food places. I seldom go but when I do it is helpful to know where the best choices can be found. Report
I really like TCHANN's suggestion about portion sizes. That's one of the trickiest things about eating out. Great article! Report
I to go to chickfila for my morning coffee if I go in at 9a.m since thats when they open. Every now and then I would treat myself to lunch there, but I would only order a kids meal as 30 mins isnt really much time to consume a healthy lunch and enjoy it. I began to realize that I would have a headach by 3pm. That was a sign that my blood pressure was a little elevated. So I quit eatin there and began to bring my own lunch. A lite sandwich and wilers drink mix and a snack of my choice to tide me over till I get home for dinner. I heard a celebrety on the radio one day say that he had a scare of colon cancer and was shocked to find out that charbroiled food contributed to his diagnosis and I am just curious just how true that statement is? Does anyone know? I see that chick-fila offers a variety of charbroiled meals is the also something that we need to be cautious of? Report
what's a chick-fil-a? don't go out to eat unless my husband and i are on vacation. i like eating at home, aalot less grease dont fry alot of foods, mainly bake our food, or use my fave my george foreman grill, when i can't grill outside. Report
If I have a heavy sodium-filled meal (or day), I make sure to balance it out by drinking tons of water the rest of the day. I don't know if this really helps to balance out the sodium, but I like to think it does :) Report
thanks for the info. Report
I stopped eating at chick-fil-a when I discovered they put MSG in their chicken. Report
This is the first one of this series that I've seen, but I think it could use another feature: serving -sizes-. We all know that almost any meal can look healthy if you size it small enough, but that size may not be big enough to constitute an actual lunch.

I know Chick-fil-a's salads are really good portions, for example - enough that perhaps just one serving of the dressing (at 60 calories) isn't enough, and the dressing packet comes with several servings in it. Tricky! Report
Thanks for the tips. In my career I travel and eat at fast food restaurants at least twice a day during the week. It's nice to know that CFA has options to help me with my weight loss challenge. Report
Leave in Texas everyone goes to chickfila but the sodium is so high!!! ugh! Report
Chik-Fil-A is a cut above other fast food restaurants and if I'm going to eat lunch out, which isn't often, I choose their place. Employees are professionals who make sure you are satisfied and they keep their restaurants nice and clean. Don't head there on a Sunday because they are not open. Report
Chik-Fil-A is a cut above other fast food restaurants and if I'm going to eat lunch out, which isn't often, I choose their place. Employees are professionals who make sure you are satisfied and they keep their restaurants nice and clean. Don't head there on a Sunday because they are not open. Report
Turtlerae55-There are several Chick-Fil-A's in California. Go to their website and to Ca and it lists them all for you. They're great. Report
I love Chic-fil-A, especially their chicken breakfast burrito, but I haven't had anything but a tea from there for almost a year now. I went on their website and read the nutritional information and just about choked when I saw the sodium content! Unfortunately, my husband has high blood pressure and there aren't many options. Report
CFA is the world's best fast food chain. I worked there for 2+ years in high school and received a scholarship. I also went to school for a year at Berry College in Rome, GA where they have their WinShape Center. You should look it up. The philosophy behind the brand is family-centered and, although it's not for everyone, faith-based. They also usually hire a higher caliber employee.

Anyway, their food: the chicken comes in fresh and it's real, not pre-cooked frozen chicken parts. That's why its a little pricier. The char-grilled chicken is marinated so it tastes better. The salads usually have more veggies than other chains. Get the sandwich but only eat half the bun and cut calories. That way you can have a diet lemonade (fresh-squeezed in the store) with your extra calories. Report
My hubby and I very rarely add salt to things when we cook. We also only keep sea salt in the house for the times we do. It takes so long for us to go through a can of sea salt it's not funny! Report
Never heard of "Chick-fil-A".
Since I don't eat fast food more than a few times a year the article doesnt' address a real need for me. When I do get fast food? Taco Bell's fiesta salad or a cheeseburger with no extras are all I get. And at home, I seldom add salt to anything I cook or eat. Report
Thanks for the good information I love Chick-Fil-A their food is good and I never had a bad experience there, the sodium seem to be very high though Report
The Southwest Chargrilled Chicken salad has been one of my saving graces in my hectic days. Coming in with less than 300 calories and packed full of flavor and healthy veggies that are filling, it has become one of my favorite meals! It has a super great corn salsa on it that mixes in to give it just the right amount of dressing with no need to add more. Enjoy friends. Report
I was interested in seeing this one,today. I used to eat there sometimes, but only when we made a trip to the mall,that's the only place that had one. However, it's no longer at the mall, and I miss it. I didn't know that the food contained some much sodium, though. I don't know why that these places can't lower the sodium. If someone wants salt, they always have salt shakers for people to add more to the food. I need,and want less sodium. Report
I have never eaten at Chic-Fil-A so i know nothing about what the serve. Report
I love Chick-fil-A, I didn't realize that they did have so many healthy options though...I typically opt for unhealthy when I eat there- it is my treat of the month sort of thing. :) Report
Isn't there any place out there that can limit their sodium? I love Chic-fil-a. Both our daughters had their first jobs there - awesome company. Report
Wow that sodium is through the roof- makes me not want to go there at all! Report
I have never eaten at Chick-Fil-A, but many of my friends have. They love the food. I may have to try one in the future. Report
I love their Southwestern Chargrilled Chicken Salad. It has enough spice and flavor you don't need any additional salad dressing. Report
Man, I wish we had a ChickFilA here! That Chargrilled & Fruit Salad sounds awesome!!! Thanks for the article though!! Great choices out there! Report
Thanks. I never tried Chik-Fil-A before, but I think I might have to check them out. I try to find something not to heavy, specially on days I work out. Since my work out starts at 6 pm and is an hour long. I need something to eat before my 9 pm cutoff and I don't want it to be to heavy. Report
Thanks for this entry. Chick-fil-a is my favorite FF place. Report
We do not eat at a fast food restaurant. Only time we have eaten is when we travel by car and there is nothing else available at the rest stops! If I can manage it, I take my own tuna sandwich and buy yogurt or salads at pit stops. If time permits, we choose to take an exit ( pre-planning via google) and eat at a restaurant that serves you freshly prepared food where you can order ' no salt'.

I have never ate at chick-fil-a. You can adjust you sodium intake by compensate 1 or 2 items in your next meals to equal your daily sodium intake . Report
This is one of my favorite places! I applaud them for posting their nutritional information in each location, and online so we can all make an informed decision. While they may have some "high sodium" items, I think overall they offer some healthy choices. Report
I really like their food but never thought about the sodium. That is way too much for me. I thought they were a healthier fast food place over the others. Maybe I will stick to Subway if I'm going for healthy fast food. Report
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