Q: I made plans to go out to eat with friends for Cinco de Mayo, but I don’t want to blow my diet! What are the best tips to eat out at a Mexican restaurant?
How to find healthy choices at Mexican restaurants is one of the most popular topics here at HealthyDiningFinder. It’s also a favorite of ours to discuss because most people assume you can’t eat Mexican food on a diet. False! Whether you are at the grocery store or a restaurant, it’s about making the best choices for you, and that can include Mexican food for Cinco de Mayo.
Here’s a handy guide to help you follow your healthy diet at this week’s big fiesta or anytime you treat yourself to Mexican food:
- Stick with soft tacos (not “crispy”) made with a whole wheat or corn tortilla.
- Choose lean protein like grilled chicken, grilled fish or fiber-rich whole beans.
- Pile on the fresh veggies like cabbage, tomatoes, onions.
- Pick one more decadent extra: cheese, sour cream, avocado (bonus points for the healthy fats in avocado).
- Follow the same tips as for tacos.
- Many restaurant burritos are big enough to split, which can help you save on calories.
- When the burrito is made with refried beans, request to substitute with whole beans, if possible.
- Always check the nutrition information on these cheesy choices, as they are often high in calories.
- Order a veggie or lean protein option like chicken or turkey and request no cheese topping.
Outside the Tortilla
In general, stick with lots of fresh veggies, go easy on higher fat and calorie extras and avoid fried dishes such as chimichangas, sopes, and taquitos. Always check the nutrition information before you order, as the numbers can vary widely from restaurant to restaurant and dish to dish. If you plan to treat yourself to a cerveza with your meal, remember that it will add extra calories to your meal. Most importantly, enjoy your meal, and if you need to, get right back on track with your healthy diet the next day.
- Ceviche – This is a good seafood choice that is high in lean protein and flavor while often lower in calories. Skip the side of chips and enjoy solo or over a salad.
- Salads – Opt for a salad with grilled fish, shrimp, chicken, lean beef (such as sirloin) or legumes. Stick with salsa or a splash of lime in place of dressing and avoid taco shell bowls.
- Bowls – All the taco or burrito flavor without the tortilla! See recommendations above.
There are so many great choices that you can order at Mexican restaurants without doing in your diet this Cinco de Mayo! Take the guesswork out of ordering the best choice now and throughout the year with dietitian-recommended menu choices like these at Healthy Dining Finder.