Healthy Mexican Food for South Beach Dieters

Choose the best Mexican food to keep your eating plan on track

healthy Mexican food
Healthy ceviche with lime. Jeremy Woodhouse/Holly Wilmeth Blend Images/ Getty Images

If you think dining at a Mexican restaurant is off limits when you're following The South Beach Diet, you're wrong.  There are plenty of healthy Mexican foods you can enjoy while you're following the weight loss program. And they're great choices for other dieters and healthy eaters as well. Use this guide to make sure you eat well and still lose weight when you eat Mexican.

Healthy Mexican Restaurant Tips for South Beach Dieters

As with Chinese food, the main problem at many Mexican restaurants is that the food has been "Americanized." Traditional Mexican fare is healthy, but American style Tex-Mex cuisine is often full of bad fats and loaded with calories.


In order to stick to the South Beach Diet in a Mexican restaurant, you need to sort through the menu and find food that is full of fresh vegetables and lean protein. You may even find some healthy fats - like avocado - on the menu. If you eat in moderation, you can keep your South Beach eating plan on track and still enjoy a healthy Mexican meal.

South Beach-Friendly Mexican Menu Choices

If you are on the South Beach Diet, you can eat most of your favorite Mexican dishes. You just need to order them unwrapped. That means that you ask for your preferred meats and vegetables (the ones you normally get in fajitas and tacos) without the crunchy or soft taco shells. Phase 2 or 3 dieters can ask for whole-wheat tortillas on the side.

You can also order a dish of grilled chicken or fish - without the fattening cheese. If the dish includes a spicy sauce, like mole sauce, it's usually acceptable. You can also look for other dishes that include foods like shrimp or lean beef.

Don't be afraid to ask your server to make adjustments to your meal to stick to your diet.

So what about side dishes?Any South Beach dieter can order a vegetable salad and top it with salsa as dressing. Black beans are an acceptable side on Phase 2 or Phase 3 of the South Beach Diet. And a small serving of guacamole is also acceptable because avocado is considered a good fat.

Less Healthy Mexican Food 

So what's the least healthy part of your Mexican dining experience? That  never-ending basket of tortilla chips. So the first step to eating a South Beach-style Mexican meal is to ask your server to skip the chips. If you're hungry, order a plate of raw non-starchy vegetables and dip them in salsa instead.

Other foods to avoid in a Mexican restaurant include:

  • Tortilla chips in your meal. Crunchy, delicious deep-fried corn. These foods are not Dr. Agatston approved!
  • Sour cream. This creamy, high-fat dairy product is often used as garnish or topping.
  • Refried beans. Beans are a good source of  protein, but Tex-Mex style refried beans in a restaurant are usually prepared with animal fats and topped with full-fat cheese.  If you're on the South Beach diet, this side dish is a no-go.
  • Taco salad shells. Salad sounds healthy, but it's not when it's surrounded by a large deep fried tortilla. Skip it to stay on your healthy eating plan.

Remember, the South Beach Diet is a lifestyle, not a temporary eating plan for weight loss.

So if you love dining in Mexican restaurants, you should continue to do so. Just learn how to make diet-friendly choices when you go to keep your South Beach eating plan on track.

*This article was edited by Malia Frey, Weight Loss Expert

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