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Healthy eating and exercise for life

What to Eat When You’re Eating at the Local Chicken Joint

The local chicken joint offers a variety of choices. And, some are better for you than others. Knowing what to order can help you meet your healthy living goals. So don’t be chicken - read on! Keep the following tips in mind the next time you want to eat fast food chicken.

Chicken Choices

Most fast food chicken restaurants offer fried chicken. Although roasted chicken is now available on many menus, the following can help you navigate through the “world of chicken.”

  Approximate Calorie Averages
Fried Chicken Breast w/ skin (3-5.5 oz) 370-460
Fried Chicken Strips (three) 400-415
Fried Popcorn Chicken 450
Roasted Chicken Breast without skin (3-4 oz) 140-170
Fried Chicken Drumstick (2 oz) 140-160

What to order:

Calorie wise, the best choice is one fried drumstick. In essence, you can have your (fried) drumstick and eat it too! However, most people will eat more than just a drumstick. Consider the roasted chicken breast without skin as another option. It is also lower in fat and cholesterol because it’s not fried. (Keep in mind that the recommended serving size for cooked chicken and other meats is about 2-3 ounces - picture a deck of cards or the palm on the hand of a small woman.)

Side Item Choices
There are various choices when it comes to side items. However, not all side items are created equal. Opt for green vegetables and avoid biscuits loaded with butter or other toppings.

  Approximate Calorie Averages
Baked Beans (4-5 oz) 230
Biscuit (one) 190-250
Mashed Potatoes w/ gravy (3-5 oz) 90-120
Cole Slaw (3-4.5 oz) 190-210
Fried Potato Wedges (2.5-3.5 oz) 210-240
Corn on the Cob (3-5.5 in) 70-150
Green Beans (4 oz) 50
Macaroni and Cheese (5-5.5 oz) 180-210

What to order:

The best lower calorie side item to complement chicken is green beans. Or, choose the mashed potatoes without gravy or corn on the cob (just watch the butter). For those who must have a biscuit with their chicken, opt for just half.

If dessert is a must, be careful because “home-style” chicken restaurants may provide high-calorie dessert options. If you can’t seem to skip dessert, keep these “calorie counts” in mind.

  Approximate Calorie Averages
Apple Pie (3-4 oz slice) 280-310
Pecan Pie (3.5-4 oz slice) 410-500
Strawberry Crème Pie (2.5 oz slice) 270-280
Lemon Pie (3-3.5 oz slice) 300-320

What to order:

After eating such a heavy meal, you might want to consider skipping dessert. Most “home-style” desserts are high in calories, but if you can’t fight the temptation choose the strawberry crème pie - or split dessert with a friend.

Here is an example of how you can make lower calorie choices when eating at the local chicken joint.

Lighter Version Full Calorie Version
Roasted Chicken 155 calories Popcorn Chicken 450 calories
Green Beans 50 calories Potato Wedges 225 calories
Corn on the Cob 110 calories Biscuit 220 calories
Strawberry Crème Pie 270 calories Pecan Pie 410 calories
Total: 585 calories Total: 1305 calories

As you can see from this example, you can order a nice meal and still meet your calorie goals. By making healthier selections you can save 720 calories.