4 Ways To Make Mexican Food Fit Your Calorie Budget

By: Gen Wright

Who doesn't love Mexican food? It's such a staple in many people's diets. It tastes great and is usually fairly fast. The one big problem with this type of food is that it isn't always so nice on the waistline. Calorie packed burritos and enchiladas won't help in the weight loss department unless you're super careful about what you order. I know I never want to nix Mexican food from my diet so I've come up with a few ways to order without the guilty conscience.

1. Go for Tacos. Tacos are a super easy way to cut the calories but not the taste. Make sure to order your protein such as chicken, beef or fish grilled and without any oils. This one choice could save you approximately 120 calories per taco or more! Next, you'll want to verify that the taco dish doesn't come pre loaded. What I mean by this is that you need to be able to place the toppings on your taco instead of it being served with the toppings already piled on. Choose soft corn taco shells instead of flour. You can save yourself up to 40 calories per shell by choosing soft corn. When your tacos arrive to your table, measure about 1 tablespoon (about 3 teaspoons) of each topping for each taco. You can load them up with lettuce and tomato but for the guac, sour cream and cheese, stick to one T.

2. Ditch the Sides. Boring! I know this one is so blah but it's the truth. Refried beans are normally laden with oils and covered in cheese. Yes, you could ask for the beans without cheese but you can't remove the oils that they've been cooked in. Rice is also a calorie packer. Again, you've got a side dish that is loaded with butter and/or oil so the calorie count doubles in just a few tablespoons. Not good for the diet! If you need a side, go for grilled vegetables instead of the heavy stuff.

3. Stay Away from the Sauce. No, I'm not talking about the alcohol here! Well, that's a good point also but this is all about food. Dishes served with sauce all over them are going to automatically qualify as calorie bombs. Just like gooey side dishes, sauces are laden with calories from oils, butter and other additions that you can't actually see when it's covering your yummy enchilada. Omit the sauce and you'll save yourself some calories. Stick to fresh salsa as a topping. You're going to end up saving up to 200 calories from this choice alone.

4. Limit Your Chip Intake. I know, I know, this is a lot to ask! You've got about 140 calories in 12 salted corn tortilla chips. Most people eat way more than 12 chips in one setting. What you need to do here is count out the amount of chips you can fit into your calorie budget and place them on a side plate. Eat only those chips. Leave the rest of the basket alone or ask the server to take it away from the table. These little buggers are delicious but totally addicting!

Try these four tips to enjoy Mexican food with fewer calories. Make sure to stick to water or iced tea at your meal, load up on lettuce and salsa to satiate you and stay away from sauce, cheese, beans and gooey sides that will kill your calorie goal. Moderation is key here and learning how to make smart choices. There's no reason why you can't enjoy a great Mexican meal without all the calorie guilt!

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Margot Rutigliano is the owner of Vita Vie Retreat. She has been a fitness trainer, wellness coach and healthy living adviser since 1999. Vita Vie Retreat is a fitness retreat offering healthy lifestyle transformation programs for men and women of all ages and fitness levels. For more information or to contact Ms. Rutigliano, please visit www.bvretreat.com.

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