20 Ways to Cut Mexican Food Calories

When you think of going out for a Mexican meal, you probably think of tacos, burritos, rice, beans and oh yes, chips and salsa. But if you eat all those foods (and more) you’ll leave the restaurant feeling very full and sluggish. Plus, you’ll likely have eaten more calories, fat and sodium in one meal than you need for an entire day or more.

With the goal of savoring a tasty Mexican lunch or dinner without overdoing it, here are 20 ways you can trim Mexican food calories and keep your waistline trim too.

1.     Choose corn tortillas instead of flour. With corn, you’ll save on calories and fat, plus you’ll get more fiber.

2.     Don’t order salads served in a tortilla bowl. While the edible bowls may look cool, they’re deep fried and loaded with calories and fat. Ask for your salad in a bowl and make sure the dressing is served on the side.

3.     Forget the sour cream. It’s creamy and tasty, but sour cream is also rich in calories and fat. If you must use it, ask your server if a low-fat version is available.

4.     Limit your cheese. Ask for low-fat cheese on the side or skip it altogether!

5.     Go for grilled! Order entrées that aren’t fried. Grilled shrimp, for example, is loaded with flavor, not calories!

6.     Fresh Fish. Order fresh fish like mahi mahi and avoid breaded entrées like deep-fried fish tacos.

7.     Nix the Chips. Even though they’re often free, don’t snack on the chips. You’ll save calories and fat, plus you’ll save your appetite for your actual meal! If it’s tough to resist the temptation, ask your server to not deliver the chips or to take them away. (Keep the salsa though. We’ll explain later.)

8.     Forget the margarita. A margarita sounds and looks refreshing but it can have over 600 calories. If you want an alcoholic drink, choose something slimmer; a glass of sangria will usually fall closer to 200-300 calories.

9.     Skip the refried beans. They may taste yummy, but refried beans are typically mashed and cooked in bacon fat. Order whole black beans or pinto beans instead, as both tend to be healthier alternatives.

10.  Go fruity. Ask for fruit or grilled veggies instead of one or both of your typical sides like rice or fries.

11.  Go easy on the guacamole. Sure it has healthy fats, but guac is also loaded with calories. Use it in moderation to save calories.

12.  Split your meal. Portions at Mexican restaurants are often very large, so plan to save half of your food for another meal or share the entrée with a friend.

13.  Say ¡Si! to Salsa! Made with good-for-you ingredients like tomatoes, garlic and onions, salsa is one of the healthiest toppings you’ll find at your Mexican restaurant. Use it to spice up your entrée and your sides.

14.  Say No to Chorizo and Carnitas. Eating chorizo, a sausage, and carnitas, a fried pork or beef, won’t help your body. These Mexican meats are bursting with saturated fat and calories. Chicken breast, lean steak, shrimp and fish are lower-fat options.

15.  Skip the Nachos. This cheesy appetizer exaggerates everything: too many chips, too much cheese, too much salt and way more calories than you might get in an entrée.

16.  Order Sauces on the Side. From cheese sauces to salad dressings, Mexican meals have lots of tasty add-ons. But be careful with how many you use and how much you eat. If you must have them, order them on the side and dip sparingly.

17.  Control Your Meal. Order a make-it-yourself style meal like fajitas, so you can control what ingredients you put in your tortilla and how much.

18.  Don’t Order an Appetizer. Often these starters have more calories than entrées. Save your calories for the main course.

19.  Ask for Lettuce. Ordering a burrito or a taco? Ask your server to substitute lettuce for higher calorie tortillas. Your meal will still be tasty, and you’ll save calories, too.

20.  Forget the Flan. After eating a big Mexican meal, avoid high calorie, fattening desserts. After all, you don’t really need custardy-flan or a fried tortilla shell filled with ice cream, caramel and chocolate.