Use this graphic with helpful tips and easy meals to help you stay on track while dining at a Mexican restaurant — because you shouldn’t have to miss Taco Tuesday just because you want to eat healthy.
If you can find the restaurant’s nutritional information online, then that’s bonus points, but if not, just remember that less ingredients means less problems. So keep things simple and fiesta on!
Portions Perfect for Sharing
- Split the meal and the bill. You’ll walk away just as happy.
- Healthy appetizers, such as ceviche or ahi tuna tacos, are a great substitute for the endless servings of chips and guac. These choices are full of protein, low in fat and great for sharing.
- Ask for small serving plates so you can either weigh things out precisely or estimate things onto your OWN plate. This will also allow you to know when you’re “done” since picking nachos off a shared plate can be a recipe for disaster!
Read the Fine Print
- Paying attention to descriptive words can save you a ton of calories.
- Stick with what you know. Chargrilled, baked, steamed or roasted is the way to go.
- Steer clear of items that include the words queso fresco, chalupa, chimichanga and enchilada. These words mean fried and/or cheesy and usually involve a massive tortilla stuffed with things you may regret later.
Know Your Protein
- Carne asada is beef that has been marinated and usually grilled. It’s often sliced and served as a main course or as a filling. Be sure to ask what cut of beef is used!
- Barbacoa is beef, lamb or other meat that has been slowly cooked and typically shredded! Since it is made with different meats, the macros can vary greatly, so be sure to ask what type of meat is used with your barbacoa so you can track it accurately!
- Carnitas is pork that has been braised or roasted, sometimes in oil or lard, and served shredded.
- Chorizo is a spicy pork sausage usually high in fat. Most of the time it contains twice as much fat as protein.
- Your leanest protein options will be chicken, white fish or shrimp.
Fajitas & Tacos
- Get the fixings on the side so it’s easier to measure and stay on track. One of the best things about Mexican is it’s easy to build your own meal!
- Know the protein source. Use the section above to narrow your options, or ask what meat cuts are served with your meal so you can track it accurately.
- Choose corn tortillas over flour — these are usually a little lower in carbs and can be easier to calculate. For an even lower-carb option, opt out of tortillas or ask for large leaf lettuce to make a protein-packed wrap.
- Request that you don’t want your tortillas, meat or vegetables cooked in fats like butter or oil if you’re watching your fat consumption.
- Order dressings on the side. If you’re stuck on what salad dressing to order, try salsa! It’s a great alternative and adds so much flavor.
- Add protein such as chicken, lean steak, grilled fish or black beans.
- Order the toppings on the side to make portion control easier. Plus, you will have a good idea of the amount you can plug into your food tracking app, whether you use a food scale or estimate with your hands.
- If there is a topping you’ll have trouble eating in moderation, ask them to skip it all together so you don’t have to exert the extra willpower (e.g., taco salads that come with chips that you “aren't going to eat”...um...yes you will!).
- Don’t let happy hour result in a not-so-happy morning. Drink a glass of water between drinks if you’re having more than one. It will help you pace and hydrate in between.
- Order a “skinny” margarita to save almost 5 ounces of unnecessary sugar.
- Use the WAG Alcohol App to track your liquor! Also, create a separate entry for the mixers.
Before You Say, “OLÉ”
- Ask for the specific portion of your protein. Usually restaurants will have a food scale and don’t mind measuring it out. If you need more protein, don’t be afraid to ask for double the portion size (or add an extra protein source).
- Stay hydrated. Mexican food is high in sodium, which is a huge reason why you may walk away bloated. Make sure your server brings plenty of water refills to your table.
- Plan your meal out before planning other meals for the day so you can eat accordingly through the rest of the day.
For more tips on ordering at a restaurant, check out this article.