Is Mexican Food Healthy?
When trying to lose weight, it’s common to feel like you need to completely eliminate Mexican food. However, you can still enjoy Mexican food – with some modifications. In fact, even on the Biggest Loser Bob and Julian took contestants out to eat at a local Mexican to teach them how to make healthy choices.
You’ll have to learn to forgo your old favorites of enchiladas, chimichangas, and re-fried beans. Americanized Mexican food is prepared with vast amounts of lard and generous portions of cheese. In fact the dishes we consider Mexican often don’t even exist south of the border. Authentic Mexican food uses fresh, nutrient packed ingredients and is very different than the supersized American versions high in fat, sodium, and calories.
• The first thing to do when dining out at a Mexican restaurant is to refuse the free chips and salsa. Tortilla chips are full of fat and it’s too easy to fill up with these chips while waiting for your entrée. If you do opt for the chips, only get one basket and share it with your entire table.
• Avoid anything that is fried. This includes re-fried beans. Ask if you can get whole pinto or black beans, which have not been fried in lard. Look for items that are baked or grilled. Avoid anything that described as fried, crispy, cheesy, or smothered.
• Ground beef tends to have lots of fat; opt for chicken instead.
• Turn down extra toppings such as sour cream and guacamole which are full of fat. Ask for raw avocado instead of guacamole. Salsa, which is low in fat and full of vitamins, is a better topping for your meal. If you really want to fatty toppings, order them on the side and use them sparingly.
• Order a la cart to skip the sides of re-fried beans and rice. The combination platters are great, but the portions are enormous and you don’t need the rice and beans.
• Choose fresco, if available. Even fast food chains, like Taco Bell, are offering this option of using tomatoes and lettuce in place of cheese.
Use these tips and you can still enjoy Mexican food. Try to find authentic Mexican restaurants to get healthier options using fresh produce, fiber-filled tortillas, and beans packed with protein. True Mexican cooking uses spices such as chillies, cumin, and garlic to enhance their dishes instead of oil, fat, and calories. You may find you even prefer authentic Mexican cooking over the Americanized versions.