When you coach dieters on making nutritious choices, can you indulge in a meal at an Atlanta institution even if it's considered fast food? Three local dietitians shared what they order at Chick-fil-A.
Caitlin S. Russell, MS, RDN, LD, CLT: Cobb salad with grilled chicken and without cheese
Russell focuses on the dietary treatment of food-sensitive clients and is also experienced with advising adults on weight loss. She said that when her family has weekend sports or is out running errands, they might stop somewhere like Chick-fil-A for lunch. "I know we can each get something we like there," she said.
She always gets the same thing: unsweet iced tea with lemon and the Cobb salad with grilled chicken instead of breaded chicken. "I have a sensitivity to dairy, so I ask them to leave off the cheese and that's never a problem," she said. "Since I'm dairy free, I usually get the Italian dressing. I've also tried their newer superfood kale salad, which I'll pair with some grilled chicken nuggets."
She eats around the dried cherries on the kale salad. "They're a concentrated form of sugar," she said. "But I might eat one or two for sweetness!"
Rachel Brandeis, MS, RD: Skips Chick-fil-A and all fast-food places
Brandeis earned a graduate degree in community nutrition from Georgia State University and does not eat at Chick-fil-A. She said that the eatery does have healthier options than most fast-food joints, depending on the order. "For me, the bottom line is that it has a drive-thru. Any time you pick up fast food rather than eating at home, studies show you consume on average 30 percent more calories, fat and sodium."
Page Love, MS, RDN, CSSD: Grilled chicken sandwich, kale salad
Love is a leading expert on sports nutrition and eating disorders in the southeastern United States. When she dines at Chick-fil-A, she loves to combine the grilled chicken sandwich with the kale salad. For dessert, she goes for a yogurt parfait or soft serve. "I still strive to have a grain, protein, vegetable, fruit and dairy even when dining at a fast-food place. Chick-fil-A offers the options so I can make this happen."
Love also eats the waffle fries on occasion. "I look at them as a starchy vegetable and fat serving," she said. "We need both of those food groups. The small serving is under one cup and has potato skins to boot. So they really are some of the healthiest fries in town!"