I am a woman who loves systems. I have a system for just about everything from how I drink my 2 AM and 3 PM drinks to how I organize my sneakers based on activity followed by color coordination. Naturally, I have a super specific system for how to healthy at Mexican restaurants. I’ll share exactly what I order and how I eat it. It sounds silly to say “how to eat it” but that’s what helps us enjoy on track here.
When I go out to restaurants, I eat in 3 ways:
1) I enjoy whatever without regard for portions or healthy options
2) I order healthy items on the menu and specify cooking preferences
(ex: salmon, veggies, rice cooked with oil instead of butter or a chopped chicken salad with an oil based dressing on the side)
3) a hybrid… I’ll order something I love but apply a healthy system to keep it on track, which just basically means the meal fits my portions to stay in alignment with my goals
My system for how I eat at Mexican restaurants to enjoy yet stay on track is #3
WHAT TO ORDER:
I find one of the healthier options on the menu is fajitas. They offer lean protein options like fish or chicken. They’re grilled. They come lots of veggies. AND, you can assemble them yourself.
THE ORDER: grilled fajitas (at my fav restaurant the fajitas come with meat, tortillas, beans, rice, guac, pico, bell peppers and onions.
HOW TO ENJOY:
How we enjoy the fajitas is how we stay on track with the meal plan. Again, if you want to eat whatever, go for it! However, sometimes I find myself at our local favorite Mexican restaurant a little too often to just indulge, so I use this system.
1. THE MEAL PRIOR OR AFTER
I know this meal will be heavier on carbohydrates than a normal, ideal meal within my meal plan guidelines. To make room for these extra carbs, I will limit or remove carbs from the meal prior or after. Now onto the chips and salsa….
2. LIMIT THE CHIPS
First off… the chips and salsa. If you have willpower like superwoman, skip it. My husband some how can say, “we don’t need any chips and salsa.” To which I interject, “he doesn’t but I do” haha. I’ve never actually said that but I should lol.
Most times, though we get the chips and salsa and eat just a little. I have a trick – go figure – for how to limit the chips and salsa, which is to order right away. As soon as we sit down and the waiter or waitress comes over, we put in our fajita order. The quicker your meal is brought out = the less chips you’re consuming.
Unless you are here to indulge, skip the guac and queso with the chips. Guacamole typically comes with what we are about to order so for now, we just don’t need the extra.
Also, I alwayssss order a water with 4 lemon slices. Why 4?? Well, it could be 5 or 7… I just want more than one. Lemon water acts as a natural diuretic which will help combat the excess sodium that the meal holds. One lemon slice isn’t enough fresh lemon juice, so politely ask for several. My husband uses it as an opportunity to squeeze lemon juice over the chips which is also delicious by the way!
3. 1 TORTILLA
Because tortillas hold a considerable amount of fat and carbohydrates, we will limit it to just one. When your meal arrives, take just 1 tortilla to assemble your fajita. If you don’t even like fajitas, enjoy the sides of rice and beans that typically come with fajitas as your carbohydrate option.
4. EYEBALL YOUR MACRO FOOD GROUPS
As you assemble your fajita, use your macro mindset. Carbohydrate = tortilla. Protein = chicken/steak/fish (whatever you ordered). Fat = guacamole. Vegetables = bell peppers, onions, pico de gallo, etc. – load them on.
There may be a lot of sides you’re not using, which is okay. We often think that we must eat every last bite a restaurant serves us. Take a to-go box. You’ll likely have tons of sides and lots of leftover meat that you can use the next day or in my case, my husband or little guy usually has a nice something to eat when I get back.
5. DRINK DRINK DRINK
I hope by now, your water glass has been refilled several times. It’s super important to keep that water intake up, especially when consuming a higher-sodium meal. Lemon water will help even a little bit more.
Alrighty, that’s my super specific system for how I eat healthy at a Mexican restaurant. I LOVE living a healthy lifestyle and I think I enjoy it more when I figure out “hacks” to enjoying food, fitness and life while keeping it healthy. I don’t ever want you to feel like you can’t meet a girlfriend for dinner after work one night without letting go of your healthy dinner. There are always options and I hope this post provides you with yet another resource for how to eat and enjoy.
If you want further information on my nutrition approach, I highly recommend my Eat Your Way Lean Meal Plan that I’ve mentioned. It has my 3 easy guidelines on food portions, combinations and timing plus 100s of amazing, quick, easy recipes.
(my girlfriend who was born in Mexico and proficient in Spanish is sitting right next to me. She just corrected my “Adios amigos” to “Adios amigas” since I’m speaking to a group of girlfriends. There’s a Spansih tip for you in case you wanted that as well today lol)