Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Adios, French fries (or the importance of a good side-kick)

It's all about the company you (and your entree) keep.

While I'm personally trying to pack nutrition into every meal, it's quite possible that many of you just want to cut some calories each day. That's cool, brahs and brahettes.

There are plenty of ways to do that, but one thing that gets overlooked is what surrounds your heaping portions of meat (or vegan main course?). You already know this, but if your cross hairs aren't necessarily aimed at the ceiling, you'll marvel at how much you can save by (take a deep breath) cutting out french fries, potato chips and their fried kind.

(Another way? Cut back or completely cut out empty soda calories, but that's another post for another day. Although I will prematurely sing the praises of unsweetened iced tea, as diet soda is kind of bad for you too.)

Just to give you a quick comparison, I've been combining Chick Fil A's Chargrilled Chicken sandwich (a quite tasty 300 calorie sandwich whose only sin is a high sodium count) with their side salad instead of fried chicken and fries yet still ending up with a VERY filling meal. In fact, I'd argue that the meal ends up appeasing my hunger for much longer.

Let's compare some of the side options at the wacky Mormon (they're Mormons right? I know they close on Sundays ...) chick joint, with the fruit cup being another great option, although I doubt that it would be enough to keep me full through the day. You may disagree, and good for you, because it's even better for you than the salad option.

Anyway, let's compare and contrast.

Grilled chicken and a healthy salad make a dynamic duo. (G-get it?)

(Oh, and Chick-Fil-A has its own calculator, so you can mix and match to your heart's content.)

Bad move:

Fried chicken sandwich, medium Waffle Fries and a medium Coke:

Calories: 980; 38 grams of fat; 1575 mg of sodium; 131 carbs; 7 g of fiber; 54 g of sugar; 35 g of protein

Comments: The sad thing is that this is a relatively decent meal in the fast food world. It just shows you how much damage you can do when every move you make is a bad one. Horrible sugar, carbs and calories. And, again, there are burgers alone out there that can cause similar caloric problems.

Intermediately Bad:

8-piece nuggets, medium Waffle Fries and a medium unsweetened tea.

Calories: 650; 33 grams of fat; 1190 sodium; 57 carbs; 5g of fiber; 2 g of sugar; 32 g of protein

Comments: Still a bit costly, but if you're going to be bad this isn't a catastrophe. Bump it up to 780 calories and 38 grams of fat if you go with the 12-count of nuggets.

My choices:

Note: for the side salad, there's three options: a reduced fat berry balsamic vinaigrette, a low fat Italian and fat-free Honey Mustard. In this case, I chose the berry balsamic, but that's mainly because of the high salt content of the Italian (which sports less fat and calories) and because I'm already using mustard as a Ranch-killer.

The Meal
  • Chargrilled Chicken sandwich (make sure to get the regular one, which I think was #2, instead of the Club - I believe #6 - which has bacon and cheese to ruin the value)
  • Side salad w/ a little less than half a packet of reduced fat berry balsamic V dressing [don't use the croutons, but I did throw in a bit of the sesame seeds they provide. You don't need the whole packet on a small salad, BTW.]
  • Unsweetened Iced Tea.
The Stats

440 calories, 10g of fat (probably 15 with the sesame seeds), 1390 mg of sodium, 55 carbs, 5g of fiber, 21g of sugar, 34 g of protein

Comments: A nice, filling meal that I typically augment by bringing a fruit cup for later in the work day. It's not perfect, but you save 200-500 calories by choosing a better side, better drink and grilled chicken. That way, you make the most of your calories and can avoid those dreadful mid-afternoon sugar crashes.

Keep in mind also that with chicken nuggets it's almost inevitable that you'll add some bad sauces to the mix, making the grilled chicken w/ salad shine through even more. If you decide on the chicken nuggets, maybe ask for one of the health(ier) dressings instead? Hmmm?


Going forward, I'll try to find more solid substitutes for French fries. If you're at a Subway, you might be surprised how decent the Baked Lay's are (even if they share the same un-filling problems as their fattier bagged brothers). But I can expand on that later.

Oh, and Chick-fil-A also has salads and other helpful suggestions if you'd really like to avoid carbs or just want a variety of options ...

Not sure you'll find much there if you're a vegetarian, though. But I'll try to look out for your interests whenever possible. No, really.

No comments:

Post a Comment