How to Eat Healthy Mexican Food

Eat diet-friendly Mexican food in a restaurant or at home

healthy mexican food
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Do you think of healthy food when you think about eating Mexican? Most people don't. But there are so many ways to eat healthy Mexican food in a restaurant or in your own kitchen. You just have to know which Mexican entrees to order and which Tex-Mex foods to avoid.

Healthy Mexican Food

Traditional Mexican fare is made from fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, meat, and seafood.
So most of the ingredients in Mexican or Tex-Mex food are good for your diet.

And the spicy flavor makes it a great choice for dieters. It can be harder to overheat food when it has some heat.

But many times, when we visit a Mexican restaurant we order the cheesy, fried dishes that can derail a diet. So what should you order instead? It's easy to indulge in diet-friendly Mexican food if you stick to a few guidelines.

These healthier Mexican menu items will help you keep your healthy eating plan on track:

  • Gazpacho ( a tomato based soup traditionally served cold)
  • Chicken or vegetable fajitas (with just one or two tortillas or skip them altogether)
  • Grilled chicken dishes (e.g., arroz con pollo)
  • Grilled seafood-based dishes (e.g. camarones de hacha)
  • Salsa and picante sauces with spice
  • Soft (unfried) tacos with chicken or beef 
  • Tamales
  • Chicken flautas
  • Fish tacos
  • Chile con carne (hold the cheese and chips)
  • Pico de gallo

Mexican Food to Avoid If You're On a Diet

If you're trying to slim down, avoid foods that are fried or covered in cheese or creamy sauces.

You should also go light on the guacamole. The dip provides plenty of healthy fat, but the calories in an avocado add up quickly So enjoy it in moderation.

You may also want to avoid chips and salsa that might be included with your meal. In fact, many smart dieters ask their server not to put it on the table at all.

It's too easy to overeat

If you do choose one of these higher calorie dishes at a Mexican restaurant, split the meal with a friend or have half of the entree wrapped up to eat at another time.

These less healthy Mexican foods are higher in calories: 

  • chips
  • guacamole
  • nachos
  • chimichangas
  • quesadillas
  • crunchy tacos
  • taco salad in a fried shell
  • chorizo sausage
  • sour cream
  • sopapillas

Tips to Eat Healthy Mexican Food in a Restaurant

When you visit any restaurant, you'll be more likely to eat a low-calorie, healthy meal if you follow smart guidelines.

  • Make your menu selection in advance. Visit the restaurant website and choose your meal when you're not hungry or distracted.
  • Have a festive drink before, not during, dinner. If you love to have a Tex-Mex inspired cocktail, either make a skinny margarita at home or enjoy one when you get to the restaurant. Then have your meal with water.
  • Skip dessert. Your meal will fill you up. After your plate is clean, enjoy the pleasure of your company and skip the high-fat treats.

    Make Healthy Mexican Food at Home

    The best way to enjoy Tex-Mex food while you're on a diet is to make it at home in your own kitchen. That way you can control the portion sizes and choose lower calorie ingredients. These recipes are lower in fat and calories but still full of Tex-Mex flavor.

    • Blackened Fish Tacos & Chipotle Sauce
    • Low-Calorie, Almost Fat-Free Vegetable Chili Recipe
    • Low-Calorie Fish Tacos
    • The Best Low-Calorie Salsa Recipes
    • Low Fat Mexican Omelet
    • Gazpacho
    • Mexican Black Beans

    Check out more low fat and low carb Mexican recipes online.

    *Edited by Malia Frey, Weight Loss Expert

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