Take a look at any mall food court and chances are you will see a long line outside of a Chick-fil-A. This fast food eatery has become one of the most popular in the nation, but those who frequent it may be wondering what to eat for health when they go.
Well, that’s where I come in! I’ve done the research, scoured their menu, and to the best of my ability, built some options for those of us who want to have our chicken and eat it too.
As in my previous restaurant survival guides (check out my posts on surviving Chipotle, Arby’s, and McDonald’s), I will take a look at where the company came from and what they are doing, what their food offerings include, and finally list the best meal options I can put together.
I want to be clear before we start, that while this post is going to cover the healthiest possible options, I am not against the unhealthier ones once in a while. If you only visit a Chick-fil-A once a year, or even only a few times a year, and want to get a milkshake, go get it! I certainly won’t look down on you because I’ve done it too!
If you have been following this site for any length of time, you would know that I am against super-restrictive diets, as I don’t find them to be helpful in the long run for the majority of the people who try them.
This post is more about giving the necessary tools to those who go to Chick-fil-A more frequently and want to make it a healthier experience.
So now, let’s give the cows a rest and check out what you need to know before your next visit!
Eat Mor Chikin – How Chick-Fil-A Got Its Start
Chick-fil-A was first established in 1946 by a man named Truett Cathy as a small diner. However, it took until 1964 before the original chicken sandwich (fried chicken and pickles between two buttered and toasted buns) was created.
Since then, it has been an upward trend that includes highlights such as moving out of the malls and into free-standing restaurants in 1986, sponsoring the college football Peach Bowl in 1996, reaching a sales total of $2 billion in 2006, and culminating in opening the largest Chick-fil-A establishment in the country in New York City in 2015.
Read more about their history by CLICKING HERE.
As for the company’s values, they can really be summed up in the words of Truett Cathy himself when he said, “We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be part of our customer’s lives and the communities in which we serve.”
Nothing exemplifies this more than being one of the first food establishments to enter into shopping malls in an early version of the food court. This allowed them to serve customers where they already were instead of forcing then to go out for a special food trip.
However, things don’t just stop with serving the most people. Chick-fil-A is committed to serving the best quality products they can and reduce the amount of food they waste through the cooking process they use.
Speaking of the cooking, all this chicken that they prepare is raised in the United States without antibiotics and contains no hormones or fillers. It’s prepared in small batches so as not to waste either. Their food also contains no Trans fats (we’re looking at you, Arby’s!).
Chick-fil-A has also made a promise to transition to using only cage-free eggs in all their restaurants over the next 10 years (though it is a bit unclear why that would take so long!)
To make their offerings healthier, they have also committed to removing all high-fructose corn syrup from their sauces and buns (as well as artificial dyes from the sauces) and reducing the level of sodium in their menu items.
Lastly (as far as food is concerned), items like their lemons for lemonade, potatoes for fries, and coffee all come from United States, family-owned farms.
Besides their food, Chick-fil-A is also making impacts in other ways. They have implemented a practice of “upcycling” plastic bottles to make the uniforms for their employees. Check out this video to see how it’s done:
Giving back to their communities is also important and they do it in several ways. They regularly take part in donating any extra food to shelters and soup kitchens, as well as give away free food to emergency workers and victims in areas that have experienced natural disasters.
For their workers, they help them aspire to more through their scholarship programs, which have given almost $61 million to over 45,000 employees over the years.
Through the Chick-fil-A Foundation, they have also placed their focus on three specific areas:
- Education: They have partnered with Junior Achievement USA to increase work skills, financial literacy, and an entrepreneurial spirit in K-12 grade children.
- Homelessness: They partnered with Covenant House International to address issues of youth homelessness, runaway children, and child trafficking.
- Hunger: They pledge to donate $25,000 to a local food bank each time a new Chick-fil-A is opened in the area.
Finally, in the spirit of their founder’s Christian values, you will notice that Chick-fil-A restaurants are not open on Sundays. It was important to Truett Cathy to purposefully have one day a week for all of his employees to rest and, if they chose, to worship.
This and other aspects of the business (including some controversy) were the subject of an interesting documentary by CNBC last year you can view below:
Chicken, Chicken, Chicken – What Chick-fil-A Offers
If you are looking for a burger when you walk into a Chick-fil-A, you are either from a different planet or haven’t watched one of their advertisements involving the cows:
All of their main meal menu items involve poultry in some shape or form and doesn’t deviate unless you are talking about sides. Here is what you will find to eat when you walk in:
- Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit
- Egg White Grill
- Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit
- Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit
- Buttered Biscuit
- Sunflower Multrigrain Bagel
- Hash Browns
- Greek Yogurt Parait
- Chicken, Egg, and Cheese Bagel
- Hash Brown Scramble Burrito
- Hash Brown Scramble Bowl
- English Muffin
- Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Muffin
- Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Muffin
- Kid’s Meals:
- Kid’s Sides:
- Various Sauces and Dressings
Now that you know everything that Chick-fil-A has to offer, it is time for the main event. What are the healthiest options, in my opinion, for you to go with? As an important note, all of their fried items are cooked in peanut oil, so those with an allergy will probably want to avoid these!
As a fun intermission before we get to the healthy options, check out this video of a guy who took on nearly the entire Chick-fil-A menu in one sitting!
As with every other survival guide, nutritional information will be presented in a way that reflects the percent daily values (DV) for a 2000 and 2500 calorie diet. The first percentage listed will be for a 2000 calorie diet, while the second percentage will be for a 2500 calorie diet. For example:
Calories: 750 (37.5% / 30% DV)
For more information about the recommended daily value numbers, check out the FDA website.
Let’s check what you can eat for health at Chick-fil-A!!
Meal Option #1 – Breakfast: Egg White Grill With Fruit Cup And Coffee
There was really only one option when it came to breakfast, and that was the Egg White Grill. Anytime a breakfast you’re wondering what you can eat and the item comes with sausage, bacon, on a biscuit, or contains anything fried, those who are looking to stay on the lean side should avoid it. However, with this, you get a nice boost nutrition to start your morning!
- Calories: 350 (17.5% / 14% DV)
- Total Fat: 8g (12.3% / 10% DV)
- Saturated Fat: 3.5g (17.5% / 14% DV)
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 60mg (20% / 20% DV)
- Sodium: 970mg (40.4% / 40.4% DV)
- Total Carbohydrates: 44g (14.6% / 11.7% DV)
- Dietary Fiber: 3g (12% / 10% DV)
- Sugar: 13g
- Protein: 27g
Beginning your day by eating this meal can get you going on the right food. The calorie count isn’t all that bad and you are getting a decent amount of protein. The only glaring thing is the amount of sodium, which at this point, can be expected whenever you eat out at a fast food restaurant.
Meal Option #2 – Grilled Chicken Sandwich With Kale Crunch Salad And Unsweetened Iced Tea.
Once again, you will see that this meal option contains grilled chicken instead of fried. The reason for this is that fried food contains a ton more calories and fat that you probably don’t want if you are looking after your own health when eating out.
- Calories: 440 (22% / 17.6% DV)
- Total Fat: 15g (23% / 18.7% DV)
- Saturated Fat: 2g (10% / 8% DV)
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 70mg (23.3% / 23.3% DV)
- Sodium: 820mg (31.1% / 31.1% DV)
- Total Carbohydrates: 49g (16.3% / 13% DV)
- Dietary Fiber: 5g (20% / 16.6% DV)
- Sugar: 12g
- Protein: 31g
With this meal option, you are getting a good amount of calories and carbs to power you through as well as a decent amount of fiber and protein. Interestingly enough, the sodium on this option is less than that of the breakfast!
Meal Option #3 – Grilled Cool Wrap With Side Salad And Bottled Water
If you are looking for more of a wrap than a sandwich, Chick-fil-A has you covered. While you will see that this is the most unhealthy option to go with, but it still won’t set you back too badly.
- Calories: 510 (25.5% / 20.4% DV)
- Total Fat: 27g (41.5% / 33.7% DV)
- Saturated Fat: 7g (35% / 28% DV)
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 95mg (31.6% / 31.6% DV)
- Sodium: 1070mg (44.5% / 44.5% DV)
- Total Carbohydrates: 42g (14% / 11.2% DV)
- Dietary Fiber: 16g (64% / 53.3% DV)
- Sugar: 5g
- Protein: 48g
The Grilled Cool Wrap is the one meal option that toes the line between healthy and unhealthy. On the one hand, it has a huge amount of Sodium at almost 50% of you daily recommended value! However, I felt I had to include it because of the sheer amount of fiber and protein it offers. The amount of fat will also ensure that you stay full during the day.
Meal Option #4 – Grilled Market Salad With Grilled Chicken, Fruit Cup, And Unsweetened Iced Tea
Usually, when you are looking to visit a fast food restaurant, the temptation is to think that eating a salad will be most healthy. However, once many establishments are done with them, they tend to be the most unhealthy item on the menu. Let’s see if Chick-fil-A can avoid that trap.
- Calories: 310 (15.5% / 12.4% DV)
- Total Fat: 10g (15.3% / 12.5% DV)
- Saturated Fat: 2.5g (12.5% / 3% DV)
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 80mg (26.6% / 26.6% DV)
- Sodium: 530mg (22% / 22% DV)
- Total Carbohydrates: 25g (8.3% / 6.6% DV)
- Dietary Fiber: 6g (24% / 20% DV)
- Sugar: 19g
- Protein: 28g
Overall, they do pretty well with this particular salad. The calories don’t run too high and neither does the fat content. It’s also nice to see a pretty good amount of fiber and protein. As a word of caution: these numbers will vary depending on the type of dressing you use.
Meal Option #5 – Grilled Nuggets With Cinnamon Apple Sauce and 1% Milk Kid’s Meal
When you go out to eat with your kids, it can be extremely difficult to order for their health. So many kid’s options are fried because it is the easiest thing that is almost a guaranteed eat. However, Chick-fil-A has made the attempt at healthier options. This is the only option I won’t be giving percentages for because they vary depending on your kid.
What I will do is point you to an article from VeryWellFit that discusses calorie allowances depending on the age, sex, and activity level of your child.
- Calories: 237
- Total Fat: 4.1g
- Saturated Fat: 1.8g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 74mg
- Sodium: 441mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 23.6g
- Dietary Fiber: 1g
- Sugar: 19.6g
- Protein: 26.4g
With those numbers, I feel a lot more comfortable taking my kids to Chick-fil-A than I do a lot of other fast food establishments. I know they will be able to eat without completely compromising their health. It is disappointing to see the cholesterol higher than some adult meal options, though.
The sugar doesn’t concern me as much because it mostly comes from the applesauce and milk and therefore, doesn’t come from added sugars.
So Which Option Is For You?
When considering what to eat for health at Chick-fil-A, I really do think the company has made the attempt at creating options you will not only feel good about eating, but will actually enjoy!
While I would never recommend replacing home cooked meals with eating out (as cooking at home is so much more healthy), I want to prove that it can be done reasonably.
I hope that this post has given you the tools you need to succeed next time you visit a Chick-fil-A restaurant.
Now, it’s your turn! Are you a frequent visitor to Chick-fil-A? What do you think of the meal options that I have presented? Do they look good enough to make you reconsider getting one of the fried options?
Did you learn something new about the company itself? Let me know these and other thoughts in the comments section below. Additionally, should you have any questions, please feel free to send them my way and I’ll do my best to answer.
If there is a restaurant that you want me to take a look at in a future post, please feel free to leave it as a suggestion down below too! My article on McDonald’s was inspired by a user’s comment, so the next one could be you! I may even give a shout out to you and your website in the next post!
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That’s all for now! As always, God bless and happy/healthy eating!