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Healthy eating and exercise for life

What to Eat When You’re Eating Mexican

It’s 5:00 on Friday and all of your friends and family are headed to the local Mexican restaurant for cheese dip, burritos, ice-cold beers and margaritas and lots of chips and dip. However, you won’t be taking part in the festivities because you’re on a diet … or will you?

Remember, at diet (*#@!) is a four-letter word. So throw out the “diet mentality” and think “lifestyle change.” And, by making lifestyle changes you CAN eat at your favorite Mexican restaurant. Read on to learn how.

Chips and Dip
Love the never-ending bowl of chips and dip? Although you don’t have to say “no” completely, you need to practice portion control. Take a handful of chips and put them on your plate. When you’ve finished those, push the chip basket aside or ask the waiter to take it away. And, think carefully about those dips:

2 oz. (20 chips) 300 calories
1 oz. guacamole 108 calories
2 tbsp salsa 12 calories
½ cup cheese dip 246 calories

What to order:

Just one handful of chips and salsa

Most people use the chips and dips as an appetizer but some are tempted by the nachos. However, if you have already ordered chips and dip there is no reason to order nachos.

4 oz. nachos (cheese only) 345 calories

What to order:

Skip the appetizer. The chips and dip are more than enough.

Many people love a good margarita or cold beer after a long hard day or week at work. However, calories count even when you are drinking them, so consider the following:

12 oz. regular beer 146 calories
12 oz. light beer 100 calories
7 oz. margarita (on the rocks) 210 calories

What to order:

If you want an alcoholic beverage, opt for the light beer. However, water and diet sodas contain no calories!

Main Entrees
There are a plethora of choices and it can be daunting. So here are some typical calorie counts to give you the knowledge you need to make a healthier selection:

1 large beef burrito 424 calories
1 medium beef taco 272 calories
1 chicken chalupa 400 calories

What to order:

If you’re already eaten the chips and dip, opt for a lighter meal, a beef taco.

If you are ordering a “meal” you will probably have the option of several sides. Typical side items may include:

1 cup Mexican Rice 160-210 calories
½ cup refried beans 140 calories

What to order:

With all the other food, you may not even need a “side.” However, the refried beans are lower in calories and probably more filling.

Here’s just one example of how you can make lighter choices (and how those choices can really make a difference) at your favorite Mexican restaurant:

“Lighter” Version Full Calorie Version
2 oz. of chips: 300 calories 4 oz. of chips: 600 calories
6 tbsp of salsa: 36 calories 3 oz of guac.: 124 calories
12 oz. light beer: 100 calories 7 oz. margarita: 210 calories
Beef taco: 272 calories Beef burrito meal:
(includes one burrito, beans and rice)
745 calories
Total: 708 calories   1679 calories

You can dine out when trying to lose weight and you can order healthier selections. Some restaurants offer nutrition information, so ask your server or look it up online to see if it is available. Ask for sauces on the side and less cheese to help reduce calories. And, keep in mind that the calories listed above are for single servings and many restaurants offer large portions. Try ordering “a la carte” rather than a full meal, or split a meal with a friend.

There are many ways that you can cut back to help reduce and control calories. If you know you’ll be eating out that night, “lighten up” during the day or add 15 minutes to your workout to help counter some of the extra calories.