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Eating Healthy with 6 Smart Mexican Food Menu Choices that Can Help Reduce Calories

  • Mexican dining is a popular choice for many of us, but not always the healthiest.
  • We list 6 simple ways that all of us can reduce calories and still enjoy a flavorful meal at a Mexican restaurant.
  • Great news! As demand for healthier choices increase, many Mexican restaurants are responding.

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How to order in a Mexican Restaurant without Blowing Your Diet

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Eating Healthy at a Mexican Restaurant

[accordion title=”Vegetarian Mexican Dining Options”]
Vegetarian Dining Options at Mexican Restaurants


Below are sample calories of popular Mexican food

Calories can vary from restaurant to restaurant. It’s a good idea to ask for the server for actual calories of the food they serve.


  • Chicken, rice and salsa: 880
  • Shredded beef, rice and salsa: 890
  • Vegetables, rice and salsa: 750


  • Beef with salsa, cheese and sour cream: 280
  • Chicken with salsa, cheese and sour cream: 260
  • Fish taco: 260


  • Vegetables: 890
  • Chicken: 1010
  • Steak: 1030

Source: McKinley Health Center

At 330 calories, a Chicken Fajita can be a healthier choice at a Mexican restaurant

My wife and I love Mexican food. The fast, casual nature of Mexican restaurants is great for a busy middle age lifestyle. The food is generally cheap, full of flavor and peppered with spices. Add in a fiesta atmosphere plus a margarita and a Mexican restaurant can be a exciting outing.

For a healthy diet for weight loss, however, the typical fair at a Mexican restaurant can be disastrous. Popular Mexican food choices are swimming in high fat, full of sodium and packed with calories.

Rather than giving up on this dining experience, we looked for tips that would help keep us on track with our midlife health and wellness regimen.

6 Ways to Eat Healthier at a Mexican Restaurant

1. Those never-ending free tortilla chips? Avoid them!

This is probably near impossible to do for most people. That basket of chips at the table can be very tempting. You could ask the wait staff to not bring them to the table.

Or, consider taking only a handful from the basket and placing them on separate plate. Just know that 10 of these chips net out at 146 calories. So, you should adjust the rest of your meal accordingly.

Also, remember that these chips can be deep fried, so you might want to avoid ordering other fried foods during your visit. Another great option is to order hot soft corn tortillas. These are pretty tasty with the salsa.

2. Skip the fried foods and go with grilled or steamed

A Chicken Chimichanga can be a whopping 1310 calories, 44 grams of fat according to the McKinley Health Center. A Chicken Fajitas comes in at 330 calories and 11 grams of fat. Those are certainly scary number for anyone watching what they eat. And makes the menu choice much easier to digest.

3. Steer clear of sour cream, reduce cheese and hit up full flavor alternatives

We’re at a Mexican restaurant for flavor. And sour cream really is not that special of a taste, especially when you consider that 1 tablespoon has 31 calories. Debi and I love the flavor of salsa on tacos.

Also, ask for a side of Cilantro. The fresh, slightly peppery flavor of Cilantro adds a nice bite to a chicken, fish or steak taco. For full on spicy treatment, consider popping a couple slices of jalapeno peppers on your food. The spiciness will cause your metabolism to rise and help you burn some calories.

Cheese can quickly add up the calorie and fat content of your meal. That delicious white cheese you get in Mexican restaurant is typically Queso Blanco. A 1 oz serving has 110 calories and 8 grams of fat. Ask for the cheese on the side so you control the amount you consume. And use sparingly.

4. Look for veggie alternatives to favorite meat dishes

A veggie burrito is pretty tasty. With the Cilantro and peppers, it can be a very exciting dish that’s not too fattening. Also, consider grilled vegetables over rice and refried beans.

5. Don’t forget to include alcohol calories

It’s easy to forget that drinks can be a major contributor to calorie intake at restaurants. A 12 oz Margarita can have as much as 812 calories. That could be considered a meal.

If we’re in the mood for Mexican flavored food, we skip the Margaritas and instead will have water with lemon or unsweet tea. However, if we’re out with friends or celebrating, we’ll order a drink, and either share a dinner or order a couple of appetizers.

6. Nothing wrong with sharing, it’s half the fun

Sharing a Mexican dinner is a wonderful way to cut the calories in half. Also consider splitting the meal with yourself. Before you take a bite, put half the meal in a to go box for a next day lunch or dinner at home.

The tips above really are not that difficult to put into practice. They also don’t diminish the experience of a good night out at a Mexican restaurant.

Good news! Healthy Mexican menu choices increasing

With the popularity of Mexican restaurants growing, many chains are already responding to a more health conscious clientele. Fish tacos have become a prime example. Menus with fish taco choices have increased 22% in the last couple of years. Additionally, restaurants are responding to our desires for more flavorful and authentic ethnic dining experience. Eating out at a Mexican restaurant will continue to be an exciting experience as this trends continues.


Sandi Herrington

I love this! I have added it to my favorites. Thank you for sharing.

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