How to Eat Healthy at Mexican Restaurants

 by Dan Brian

By picking up a few tips, you can learn how to make healthy food choices at your favorite Mexican restaurant.


Just the aroma of Mexican foods' spices can be both tantalizing and addictive. But frequently dining on Mexican food can be unhealthy because many dishes are loaded with cheeses and heavy sauces, are fried to oblivion, and full of fat. But this is not indicative of all Mexican food. There are many alternatives that provide the same crowd pleasing flavors loved by so many. By picking up a few tips, you can learn how to make healthy food choices at your favorite Mexican restaurant.

1. Skip the chips and salsa.

Just say "no" to the complimentary chips and salsa. It can be all too tempting to munch on freshly made tortilla chips and salsa while waiting for your entrée, but it's very easy to rack up a lot of calories by mindlessly munching before you even begin your meal. Most dishes in Mexican restaurants don't take that long to prepare, so practice a little patience and save your appetite for your meal.

2. Make smart substitutions.

Don't be afraid to substitute items in dishes. A lot of Mexican food is prepared fried and riddled with fat. By making a few slight changes to your dish, you can still enjoy all the flavors of the cuisine but maintain a healthy diet. Opt for black beans or pinto beans instead of refried beans. Choose tacos with soft corn tortillas instead of hard, fried shells. Select dishes that include grilled foods, like fajitas, instead of fried entrées.

Read more: Your 10 Favorite Comfort Foods, Gone Light

3. Watch your portions.

Mexican dishes are renowned for having large portions. So reduce your portion sizes. You may be able to share a dish with a friend and still be completely satisfied. Or when ordering your meal, ask the server to serve you have of the dish and put the rest in a to-go box for later (or do this yourself).

Read more: A Quick and Easy Way to Estimate Portion Size

4. Avoid the extras.

Usually, you'll be offered an assortment of side condiments to enhance the flavor of Mexican cuisine. But piling on these extras can also result in adding mounds of calories to your meal. Avoid adding any extra cheese, sour cream or any cream-based sauces to your dish. If your dish is a little dry, order salsa. Salsa contains no fat and has minimal calories. And go easy on the guac. Even though avocado contains healthy fats, sometimes restaurants will add mayo or other fillings, which pack on the empty calories.

5. Skip the margaritas.

A nice, cold margarita seems like the perfect drink to accompany a Mexican meal, but alcohol is full of empty calories and margarita mix contains a ton of sugar. Why not save those calories for your meal? Instead, cold ice water or iced tea will do just fine to cool off your mouth from the heat of the jalapeños! If you really want to imbibe, try tequila with some fresh-squeezed lime juice.

Read more: The 13 Worst Alcoholic Drinks Sure to Derail Your Diet

6. Choose veggies over meat.

There are so many items on the menu that basically amount to meat, cheese and beans. And while there's nothing wrong with any of these things individually, they create a calorie bomb when combined. So order dishes that include an array of peppers, onions and other veggies for better nutrition content. They'll fill you up without adding a ton of calories. And choose dishes that feature chicken instead of beef.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you like Mexican food? How often do you eat at a Mexican restaurant? What do you do to keep your diet in check there? Do you follow any of these tips? Were any of them helpful? Are there any others you'd add? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!

Read more: What to Order (and What to Avoid!) With Restaurant Food


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