What Are the Best Choices for Cinco de Mayo Celebrations?

That’s right, Cinco de Mayo is here, and with it, one big food-fueled fiesta.  Sure, it’s not the celebration of Mexican independence that so many of us think it is.  True, it’s really not as extravagantly celebrated elsewhere as it is in the U.S., but that’s not going to stop us from enjoying the tasty benefits of this particular day in May.

Contrary to popular belief, yes, dietitians do happily and healthfully celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  We just have a few tricks and favorite picks, like these, up our sleeves to prevent overeating and excess calories and fat – without getting in the way of the flavor and fun:

  • Eat up before you head out – Fruit, veggies, whole grain crackers and nuts can all make satisfying snacks to help keep you from overeating once you get to the fiesta.  Need some Latin flare?  Top your fruits and veggies with a splash of lime and a little chili powder or dip your crackers in your favorite flavor of salsa.
  • Fajitas (and more!) are your friend – When ordering fajitas, burritos, tacos and other traditional Mexican restaurant favorites, opt for veggie-rich choices made with lean proteins like whole beans, chicken, seafood, lean cuts of beef (e.g., sirloin, round) or just lots and lots of veggies.
  • Tortillas can make all the difference – Opt for a soft corn or whole wheat tortilla for your menu choices.  Both corn and whole wheat tortillas are considered whole grains with good-for-you filling fiber and nutrients.  Skip the crispy picks which are often deep-fried adding loads of calories and fat.
  • Take it easy with the toppings – Dietitians love toppings as much as anyone else, including that creamy guacamole and sour cream, the flavorful cheeses and all that incredible salsa to add flavor and heat to the mix.  The trick is to use less of the higher fat and calorie options like guacamole, sour cream and cheese and to make the most of lower fat and calorie condiments like salsa and hot sauce.  Even just a little less guacamole, sour cream or cheese can make a difference in your diet without taking away the flavor you love.
  • Dance it up – It’s a fiesta!  Be sure to wear your dancing shoes – and muevete (Spanish for move) to balance out your calories in with calories out.

How do you make the best choices for Cinco de Mayo without giving up the fun?