DISCLAIMER: These recommendations take a liberal approach toward paleo eating. If you’re doing a Whole30 or eating squeaky clean paleo, you’re better off not going to Chik-fil-A due to the oils they cook with. However, for those of us just trying to build meals around protein, veggies, and other whole foods, while avoiding gluten, sugar, dairy, and other inflammatory foods, Chik-fil-A has much better options than most fast food restaurants.
Chik-Fil-A is probably the only fast food that I’ll willingly eat. And without regret, at that. Here’s why:
- You can generally count on their locations to be clean.
- Everyone who works at Chik-fil-A has been brainwashed to be happy and proactively helpful at all times.
- Options for the whole fam.
- Really solid cookies (I mean uhhh those aren’t paleo).
I stopped by CFA on the way to the lake last weekend, and realized that there were a surprising number of paleo-friendly options.
This is why, for the final installment of this poultry-licious series of posts, I’ve decided to cover Chik-fil-izzle (as I affectionately call it) for my newest ordering paleo guide! I hope you find these recommendations to be helpful the next time you give everyone’s favorite cows a visit. ❤
thoughts on flow and eating healthy
If I may, allow me to be real for a second: Sometimes, I really resent the pressure I put on myself to eat healthy, and I know I’m not alone in this!
It’s easy to make healthy choices in my kitchen, where I always have lean proteins, greens, and healthy carbs available. But as much as I love cooking, I don’t want to feel as though I have to eat every meal at home in order to fit a very strict definition of “healthy”. Sometimes, I want to let my hair down, food-wise, and not feel as though every bite I take outside of my own home is failing (have you ever felt like that?). I think this is something particularly true in the paleo community, where it’s easy to start to divide food into two categories: “clean and paleo and made of nutrient-rich rainbows”, or it will give you cancer.
It’s hard, because we know this pesky little truth: Cooking at home basically guarantees that the food you eat will be better for you. It means the portions will be more reasonable, the cooking oils will probably be cleaner and less refined, and you can have a side of veggies or a salad with every meal.
That being said — if you’re going to live a happy, balanced life, you have to be able to go with the flow. Yes, as much as possible, you should plan ahead, eat intentionally, and be proactive about what you put in your body — but you also have to know when to chill out a bit.
This is a concept one of my latest favorite podcasters (Jess Lively of The Lively Show) has been talking about lately. She’s on an epic adventure in Europe, trying to embrace the (capital “V”) Values of adventure and flow.
She says that to be successful in living those two values, you have to start with the flow — being comfortable accepting things as they are, making the best of them, and moving on from them when the time is right. From there, adventure will find you, and it’s just your job to embrace it.
For me, going with the flow means loosening up a bit when I go a little too “food Nazi,” and allowing myself to take a shortcut sometimes — especially when that comes in the form of chicken nuggets. ❤
In reality, it’s healthier to leave a little wiggle room for ourselves, in everything we do. Sometimes, when we try to do everything perfectly, we put unnecessary, unrealistic expectations on ourselves that we just can’t meet. There’s that saying that says, “You can have everything you want in life, but you can’t have it all at once.”
So if you’re doing the best you can out there, and you don’t feel like cooking dinner, or you forgot your lunch — stop by Chik-fil-A and grab one of these meals. They’re not cooked in perfect oils, but they’re tasty, quick, enjoyable and will get the job done in a pinch.
…steps off soapbox
As far as entrees go, the grilled chicken nuggets are a solid source of protein. Don’t bother with the 8-count, which is a serving size for ants. Be a big girl, get the 12-count. The salads can be good, although you have to be careful with all the little toppings — they add up to a whole lotta sugar and unnecessary gunk. You can also go “classic paleo” and get a grilled chicken sandwich with no bun (a chicken patty atop a piece of lettuce), if that’s your jam.
For sides, stick to the fruit cup, side salad, or the new Superfood Side, which will give you some fiber and nutrients.
a fork in the
road nugget regarding sauces
Let’s talk sauce for a second — none of them are remotely paleo. Most are made with some sort of soybean oil and are loaded with sugar and preservatives.
If you’re in the running for the paleo award, consider bringing your own sauces (like Tessamae’s) with you (yay, you win!).
Otherwise, you have two options: Remember that you have one life to live, and a tiny bit of that delicious honey mustard won’t kill you. Or, go sauce-free. Your life dude!
As always, drink water (or unsweet tea, because you #paidforit). Diet Lemonade is a no-go because it’s sweetened with the devil (Splenda).
5 meals under 500 calories
Here are some delicious options filled with protein and low on gunk, great for a small meal or a big snack!
12-Count Grilled Nuggets, Fruit Cup, Unsweet Tea/Water (My go-to!)
This has been my go-to meal since CFA came out with grilled nuggets. The 12-count is a good portion for a hefty snack or a small meal, especially with a fruit cup on the side.
- 250 calories
- 35g protein
- 5g fat
12-Count Grilled Nuggets, Superfood Side
I haven’t tried CFA’s new Superfood Side, so I can’t recommend it in terms of taste. However, with broccolini, kale, and nuts, it sounds like a winner, especially when compared to other fast food sides. (If you try it, let me know what you think!)
- 340 calories
- 37g protein
- 12g fat
Grilled Market Salad (no granola)
In general, I’m wary of fast food salads, because they’re usually loaded with things to make them as not-salad-like as possible (cheese, croutons, other “crunchies”, dressings). Tell them to make it how you’d make it at home (veggies, maybe a little cheese), and leave the toppings on the side so you can be a little more judicious with them. The dressing options are the same as the sauce options above — I recommend you BYOD if you plan on getting a salad.
- 320 calories
- 26g protein
- 6g fiber
- 14g fat
3-Count Chick-n-Strips, Side Salad
If you have a “hankering” for crispiness that no grilled meat can provide, do it. Just eat your greens and maybe skimp on the sauce? Or don’t. Still not that bad, either way.
- 440 calories
- 38g protein
- 4g fiber
- 23g fat
Grilled Chicken Sandwich (no bun), Side Salad
Go paleo-style and skip the bun! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find accurate nutritional information for a bunless sandwich, so these stats are for the full sandwich — maybe add a fruit cup? You crazy kid, you.
- 400 calories
- 35g protein
- 6g fiber
- 10g fat