Is the ultimate 'girl dinner' a healthy meal?

A hand using fork and knife to eat Ceasar salad with pizza on dining table in the restaurant girl dinner
A nutritionist has given their verdict on the ultimate 'girl dinner'. (Getty Images)

It has been a year since the phrase ‘girl dinner’ went viral after women shared the meals they had when they were eating solo – essentially elevated picky bits.

Now, a new ‘girl dinner’ has been crowned, with women on social media pledging their love for three items: caesar salad, a side of fries, and a diet Coke.

In fact, TikTok videos featuring the trio of items have amassed over 60.3 million views, and Google searches for ‘chicken caesar salad benefits’ have increased by 150% in the past month alone.

"One of the reasons people love this meal combination so much is that it has such strong connotations to summer and holiday vibes, making it perfect ahead of the summer months," Kyle Crowley, a nutrition expert at Protein Works, says.

Yet, is this ‘girl dinner’ nutritionally balanced? A chicken caesar salad generally consists of grilled chicken, lettuce, croutons, caesar dressing, and sometimes eggs, anchovies, and parmesan.

"In terms of nutrition, overall this meal contains everything you need," Crowley explains. "From protein in the chicken and parmesan, carbohydrates in the croutons, vitamins in lettuce and omega-3 in anchovies, it is packed with benefits."

Breaking it down further, Crowley says the lean protein in the chicken can help us build stronger muscles and healthier bones, while parmesan is also rich in amino acids which make it an easy to digest protein source.

"Croutons are typically made from toasted bread, making them a carbohydrate and a good energy source. They are often coated in oil before toasting, adding to the benefits, as olive oil includes mono-unsaturated fats, which can help reduce cholesterol levels," he adds.

"The romaine or iceberg lettuce which is used as a base for Caesar salads, are both high in vitamins C and A. Vitamin A and C can help to boost the immune system and reduce your risk of getting sick.

"Anchovies are rich in omega-3, an important fatty acid which promotes brain function. Studies show that not getting enough omega-3s is linked to symptoms of depression, highlighting the importance of it within our diets."

Ceaser salad
A caesar salad is a nutritionally balanced meal. (Getty Images)

While the caesar salad is a great option, Crowley says the other two items – fries and a diet Coke – should only be consumed in moderation.

"Fried and overly salty foods such as fries can have negative effects on the body if eaten in excess," he explains.

"However, as with any food, eating them in moderation is unlikely to cause lasting damage. Adding a side of chips with your meal, especially when paired with a caesar salad, is a perfectly fine addition to your meal.

"Like any diet drink, [diet Coke] contains artificial sweeteners to keep it sugar-free and low in calories. As with anything, drinking a diet Coke in moderation is fine; however, continuously opting for these fizzy options can cause damage to the body and even lead to an increased risk of diabetes."

The NHS recommends women consume around 2,000 calories a day, and that this should be sources from macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats, along with fibre which is found in wholegrains, fruits, and vegetables.

Eating a good mix of all of these macronutrients, along with fibre, is key to a healthy diet.