Eating Healthy at…Mexican Restaurants

When I think of Mexican food, the first thing that comes to mind is cheese, as some of the most popular Mexican dishes are smothered in it.  Many dishes on the menu at Mexican restaurants, however, don’t contain cheese at all; they’re full of lean meats, low-calorie sauces, and fresh vegetables, all much better choices than anything that’s fried and covered in cheese.  The next time you go out for Mexican food, instead of ordering your go-to chimichanga, take a good look at the menu and try one of more of the following strategies instead:

  • Start your meal off with a cup of ceviche (fish stew). Like the broth-based soups I recommend eating at Chinese restaurants, it’s a low-calorie way to fill up before a meal.
  • Go easy on the tortilla chips. Just five chips can pack in over 100 calories!  If you must indulge in chips pre-meal, put a handful on your plate, and don’t go back for more.
  • When it comes to condiments, salsa is often your best bet, as it’s very low-calorie and often fat-free. Guacamole, made from avocados, is full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, but the calories in it can add up quickly; if you do choose to order a side of guac with your meal, portion out 1-2 spoonfuls and consume only that amount.
  • Fill your burritos, quesadillas, or tacos with veggies and black beans instead of meat and cheese – you’ll end up feeling more satisfied thanks to the extra fiber and protein.
  • Choose whole wheat or corn tortillas instead of those made with white flour. While whole wheat tortillas are not always on the menu, gluten-free (and whole grain) corn ones often are.
  • Opt for dishes that contain jalapeno or chili peppers or other spicy ingredients – the more spice a dish contains, the more full and satisfied it’s likely to make you feel.
  • Grilled chicken or fish dishes are omnipresent on Mexican menus – they’re healthy and filling, and you probably won’t even miss the fact that they don’t come smothered in cheese.
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