How to Eat Healthy at a Mexican Restaurant

The Best Low-Calorie Mexican Food Choices

the best healthy Mexican food
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Believe it or not, it is possible to learn how to eat healthy at a Mexican restaurant. Tex-Mex food gets a bad rap thanks to high-calorie chips, entrees full of cheese, and high-calorie drinks. But the best low-calorie Mexican food choices are usually the ones filled with the most flavor. You Just have to know how to find them.

By learning a few simple rules, you'll learn how to find low-calorie Mexican food on any menu.

  And remember that you can also make healthy Mexican food at home. So get ready to add some spicy flare to your weight loss diet. Mexican food is back on the menu.

How to Order Low Calorie Mexican Food

  • Skip the crunchy calories.  Avoid crunchy Mexican food. It's fried and full of fat.  Ask your waiter not to bring pre-meal chips and salsa. Then when you choose your entree, select an item that includes soft tortillas. Soft tortillas are baked, not fried. Choosing soft tortillas over crunchy ones can easily save a few hundred calories.

  • Savor the salsa.  If you simply love the pre-meal chips (or if your dining companion wants them on the table) ask for a soft tortilla instead and spread it with salsa. Then fold it up and eats it like a taquito. Or you can tear it into small bits to dip into fresh salsa. 

  • Choose healthy Mexican beans.  Black beans are an excellent choice for most any dieter. They are low in fat, high in protein and provide plenty of fiber.  They get a thumbs up as a low-calorie Mexican food. But avoid ordering the black beans and rice combo if you're a low-carb dieter.

    Refried beans may sound like a good choice, but they are often prepared with lard, Mexican cheese blends, and even bacon. The calorie and fat count of this side dish is too high. Pinto beans can be a smart option if you love the taste of frijoles. You'll get a similar flavor without the extra fat.

  • Dips are a don't. Con queso dips and nacho cheese are tempting toppers for chips, but they're both extremely rich and high in fat and calories. Sour cream is another topper to avoid. Guacamole is made with avocado which is a healthy fat, but a little bit of it can quickly add up your fat and calorie intake, so keep an eye on portion sizes.

  • Make healthy Mexican swaps.  Switch to bean burritos instead of beef or cheese burritos and you'll be saying adios to lots of extra calories and get in plenty of fiber to boot. Ask for corn tortillas to be used instead of flour and you'll be doing even better.

  • Avoid the most unhealthy Mexican dishes. Some popular dishes to avoid include nachos, chimichangas, chalupas, taquitos, chile relleno, (all of which are deep-fried) and "double decker" burritos.  Better choices include chicken fajitas, bean burritos, grilled chicken dishes with peppers and onions (hold the cheese!), or a soft taco. 

Low Calorie Mexican Food—Savvy Swaps

Side dishes can make or break your healthy Mexican meal. Some Mexican restaurants will replace the high calorie sides that come with meals with a salad if you ask them to. Or ask for a side of marinated vegetables. Even if you don't see healthy, low calorie Mexican side dishes on the menu, ask your server about options.

If your order a side or entree sized salad, top it with salsa (instead of a creamy dressing) and you'll have a yummy, low-fat side dish and plenty of healthy veggies. If you really missing dressing creaminess, ask for some reduced-fat ranch dressing and blend it in with your salsa until it's got a more dressing-like texture.

If you order a taco salad, be sure to request it be served on a plate rather than the deep-fried, bowl-shaped tortilla. The fried bowl alone can add an entire meal's worth of calories to your daily total. You can also ask for the cheese to be eliminated or reduced. Add extra tomatoes, onions, and black beans for flavor. Also, swap chicken for beef or marinated pork to save extra fat and calories. Some restaurants even provide low-fat cheese as an option.

Lastly, ask for healthier grains when you dine out. Choose brown rice, if it is available, or whole-wheat tortillas to add healthy diet-boosting fiber.

 

If you find it too hard to eat healthy in a Mexican restaurant, don't give up on Tex-Mex dining completely. It's easy to cook low calorie Mexican food in your own kitchen. Not only do you save hundreds of calories and fat grams from creeping on to your waistline, but you save a few bucks as well. 

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