When you're trying to lose weight, it can feel like you're stuck cooking and eating the same things over and over again. Eating out can seem like it's automatically off limits. But it is possible to keep your calorie count low while eating out, and a Mexican restaurant is a great place to start. There are plenty of healthy, low-calorie options at a Mexican restaurant if you know what to look for. Take a look at some tips that will help you order fun, exotic food that tastes great at your favorite Mexican restaurant.
Opt For Soft Tortillas
Hard taco shells or tortillas are fried, with all of the fat that goes along with any fried food. Soft tortillas, on the other hand, are baked. That means no grease and far less fat. If you're considering a dish with a shell, opt for one with a soft shell instead of a hard, fried tortilla. Or, if you're really craving a dish that has a hard taco shell, ask if you can substitute a soft shell instead. Most restaurants, like Mexican restaurants in Tucson AZ, will be happy to make the switch.
Another option is to skip the shell entirely. Many Mexican restaurants serve fried tortilla chips as a starter, the way that other restaurants serve bread. Ask your server not to bring tortilla chips to your table. If the taco salad looks like the best meal for you, order it without the shell. It will have fewer calories and carbs, but it will still be a filling and appetizing meal that will satisfy your craving for Mexican food.
Order Black Beans
When you're choosing a side, black beans are one of the best choices for your diet. They contain no cholesterol and only small amounts of saturated fat, so they won't pack on the pounds. They're also high in other nutrients that you need for a healthy diet. A cup of cooked black beans contains 3.6 milligrams of iron, 46 milligrams of calcium, 611 milligrams of potassium, and 15 grams of fiber.
Black beans are also high in protein, which can make them a good substitute for meat if you're on a vegetarian diet. Often, black beans will be offered with rice, but if you want to cut your carbohydrates, ask for the black beans by themselves and skip the rice.
Watch Your Dips and Toppings
Many of the dipping sauces or meal toppings that are offered at Mexican restaurants are things you'll want to avoid. Sour cream and nacho cheese are high in fat and are obviously out of the question. Guacamole is made with avocados, and avocados are full of healthy fats, so guacamole may be okay in moderation, but if you're going to use it, keep your portion sizes in check.
But the one topping that you never have to worry about is salsa, and any good Mexican restaurant will have a good salsa to offer. Salsas are primarily a mix of vegetables (and sometimes fruits), so they're usually safe to eat as much as you want, within reason. If you're watching your sodium intake, be sure to ask for a low-sodium salsa. Use salsa instead of cheese, sour cream, or guacamole to give your dish extra flavor.
Slim Down Your Margarita
If you can't imagine a Mexican meal without a good margarita, don't worry, you can still have one. However, you should avoid the frozen margaritas that usually come from a premade mix. Those can be high in sugar and calories.
Instead, ask for a margarita on the rocks. That should contain just lime juice, tequila, and triple sec – no extra sugar. If you're watching your sodium intake, ask the bartender to skip the salt rim on the glass.
Dieting shouldn't mean that you need to give up enjoying great food in a nice restaurant. If you're mindful about how you order, you can enjoy your favorite Mexican cuisine without packing on the pounds.