Health

The Best and Worst Things to Order at Wawa, According to Dietitians

"Your traditional meatball sub (ahem, hoagie) is a four-car pileup for your waist line."
Wawa's downtown location at 1111 19th Street, Northwest. The Georgetown location at 1222 Wisconsin Avenue, Northwest opened in December 2018. Photo by Evy Mages

When Wawa arrived in DC in late 2017, it caused quite a tizzy. Diehards of the East Coast chain swarmed the convenience store’s hip, subway-tiled downtown location for hoagies, Sizzlis, doughnuts, and coffee (cold brew on tap!), and since then it’s become a staple for office workers and students who stream in and make a beeline for the glowing touch-to-order screens.

If you’ve ever ordered from these screens, you might have noticed that they offer calorie count, which you can watch escalate as you tack on extra cheese, bacon, maybe some ranch. But as far as nutrition facts are concerned, calorie count is all you get. So we asked Lisa Muras and Nadine Jakim Young, registered dietitians at Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Diabetes & Nutrition Program, to take a closer look at some of Wawa’s most popular items and offer what to order and what to skip.

Note: Nutrition counts reflect menu item customization by Muras and Young.

Breakfast

best and worst things to order at wawa

Order: Cinnamon Brown Sugar Oatmeal (160 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 3 grams fiber)

Muras and Young suggest that for those dining in or eating on a stationary surface (so, not in the car), the small-sized Cinnamon Brown Sugar Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast option. But note: “Unfortunately, the oatmeal comes prepackaged so you can’t order plain, but you can leave off the dried CranRaisin blend as the cereal is plenty sweet as ordered.”

Order: Roasted Veggie Breakfast Sandwich (350 calories, 13 grams fat, and 3.5 saturated fat, 860 mg sodium, 16 grams protein, and 6 grams fiber)

The veggie sandwich is already pretty healthy, but Muras and Young recommend doubling up on nutrients with extra spinach, tomato, and fresh salsa. By choosing wheat bread, you’ll triple your overall fiber intake (6 grams of fiber versus 2 grams with white bread). They suggest skipping the cheese to minimize sodium and saturated fat; reducing your intake of the latter from animal products such as cheese, fatty meats, and butter can decrease the risk of heart disease.

SkipSausage Breakfast Classic Hoagie (1,470 calories, 107 grams of fat, 35 grams saturated fat, 2,350 mg sodium)

“Crash and burn with the Sausage Breakfast Classic Hoagie, possibly the unhealthiest choice on the entire Wawa menu and a perfect example of excess everything.”

Skip: Sausage Egg and Cheese Breakfast Biscuit Sizzli (670 calories, 42 grams fat, 17 grams saturated fat, 1,640 mg of sodium, 1 gram fiber)

Another item they suggest avoiding is the Sausage Egg and Cheese Breakfast Biscuit Sizzli, which is a total sodium bomb and only offers one gram of fiber.

Lunch

best and worst things to order at wawa

Order: Lighter Style Garden Salad (300 cals, 20 grams of fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 830 mg sodium)

Muras and Young suggest customizing your salad with Vermont cheddar to bring down the sodium content, or reduce calories and saturated fat by skipping the cheese and bulking up with two scoops of Roasted Veggies (250 calories, 15 grams fat, 2.5 fat saturated, and 890 mg sodium).

Order: Oven Roasted Turkey Classic Shorti (380 calories, 10 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 1,450 mg sodium, 4 grams fiber) 

The Oven Roasted Turkey Classic Shorti becomes even more filling with piled-on veggies—lettuce, tomato, spinach, cucumber, and peppers add minimal calories and more fiber. “Skip the cheese for heart-healthy avocado, and add a kick without too many calories with the cherry pepper relish.”

Order: Roast Beef Classic Shorti (490 calories, 12 grams fat, 5 grams saturated, and 1,730 mg sodium)

Another healthy option is the Roast Beef Classic Shorti. “Keep things interesting and lower in calories with Swiss cheese, hot peppers, and a little bit of vinegar.” To get more crunch and fiber, add veggies.

Skip: Meatball Classic Hoagie (1,310 calories, 74 grams of fat, 29 grams saturated fat, 3 grams trans fat, 4,540 mg sodium)

The meatball is one of Wawa’s most popular menu choices. It’s also one of the least healthy. “Your traditional meatball sub (ahem, hoagie) with roll, provolone cheese, marinara sauce and caramelized onions is a four-car pileup for your waist line.” They point out that it’s got almost a full day’s worth of calories, two days’ worth of sodium, and “tons” of saturated fat.

Sides

best and worst things to order at wawa

Order: Black Beans (200 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 600 mg sodium, 11 grams fiber)

A small order of black beans is a “hearty, fiber-packed side” that makes a healthy addition to a garden salad.

Order: Chicken Noodle Soup (140 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 940 mg sodium)

“If you’re craving something warm, the chicken noodle soup is a low-calorie option. Choosing broth-based soups over cream-based, such as the Broccoli Cheddar or New England Clam Chowder, fills you up without extra calories or fat.”

Skip: Chipotle Mac & Cheese (740 calories, 41 grams fat, 14 grams saturated fat, 1,880 mg sodium)

Muras and Young point out that adding chipotle chilies to the Mac & Cheese only adds more salt. “If the Iggles season has really brought you down and you need comfort food, a small mashed potatoes side is a better bet.”

Kim Olsen

Kim Olsen ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Alexandria.