Basic “Healthy” Rules When Eating at Chipotle

Many of our dieting, health-conscious buddies try to avoid visiting Chipotle, as a rule. It’s not that they’re specifically against Chipotle. It’s just that they’ve been told that if they want to eat healthy, they better avoid fast-food joints in general.

But then some of them enter a Chipotle, and then all hell breaks loose. All their diet restrictions can easily get forgotten, when faced with some of the tastiest ingredients that fast-casual Mexican cuisine has to offer.

To help make sure you don’t lose your own head when you visit Chipotle yourself, you should firmly keep the following principles in mind:

Begin with a Good Base

That means you’re either getting a salad bowl or a burrito bowl. You’ll want to forswear the burrito, since the tortilla doesn’t really add anything good to the meal.

However, if you’re firmly decided on getting taco because it’s your favorite, go with corn tortillas instead of the flour tortillas. Corn tortilla has fewer calories, and it’s also lower in carbs. Plus, you get more calcium with corn.

What about the rice? Most of the menu items offer a rice option, so you can pick between white rice and brown rice. But perhaps you should go with neither option, and skip rice altogether. That way, you’re saving at least 185 calories. If you really want rice, go with the healthier brown rice for its higher fiber and micronutrient levels.

Pile Up the Vegetables

With your order, you can then include the following ingredients:

  • fajita vegetables
  • fresh tomato salsa
  • roasted chili-corn salsa
  • romaine lettuce
  • tomatillo green or red chili salsa

Veggies are very good for you, not least because it packs quite a lot of fiber. This helps you feel full for a longer time, reducing the risk of food cravings between meals. The fiber steadies your blood sugar levels, promotes regular bowel movement, and helps to keep your heart healthy.

You also get plenty of vitamin C. This is an antioxidant that helps with chronic disease and cell damage. Of course, you also get other vitamins and minerals.

Avoid the High-Calorie Add-On Ingredients

This is one step you can’t overlook, if you’re trying to lose or just maintain your weight. These add-ons include:

  • carnitas
  • cheese
  • chips
  • flour tortillas
  • guacamole
  • queso
  • sour cream

The carnitas is part of the list, which may dismay some fans. A lot of people think it’s the tastiest of the meat options. But it has 40% more calories than even the steak meat option.

You should just go with the chicken instead. It tastes great, you get 32g of protein per 4-ounce serving, and it only has half the fat content of carnitas. Or you can even try the sofritas, even though it’s made from tofu and not actual animal meat.

The other items on the list are all high-calorie stuff, and the queso, sour cream, and cheese all come with rather high fat levels.

Stick to the Right Sides

Order the wrong side dish, and you’ll get a lot of calories, sodium, and fat on top of what you’re getting from the main dish.

It doesn’t matter that chips and queso costs $3.72, and that it’s a favorite of yours. That single order loads you up with 770 calories, 82g of carbohydrates, and 41g of fat. You also get 790mg of sodium, and that’s too much for a single order.

You can just stick to salsa, or even guacamole. Sure, these items aren’t strictly healthy, but they’re so tasty they’re hard to resist. You can minimize the damage by ordering these items and then just taking them home to eat. That way, you can match them with healthier stuff, like fresh vegetables or whole-grain crackers.

Watch What You Drink

With all the focus on the food, you might overlook the fact that your choice of beverage isn’t healthy for you, either. What you need to do is to just order unsweetened tea. Even just plain water is a good choice.

What you don’t want is soda, sweetened tea, or even fruit juice. These drinks have too much added sugar that’s just bad for you.

Just Finish Half

Most of the time, a single order is actually too much for a single person. So just enjoy half of it, and take the rest home. That means you’re cutting down the calories, saturated fats, and sodium by half as well!

Final Word

It’s not uncommon for us to meet nutritionists and dieticians who sneer at the very idea of a “healthy” meal at Chipotle. But then again, it’s also not uncommon for dieticians and nutritionists to visit Chipotle as well. Doctors go there, as do nurses and emergency response units.

So, it’s not really that terrible to visit Chipotle, even from a health point of view. Just keep these basic principles in mind and then just visit every so often. You’ll be fine—and you get great fast-casual Mexican fare to boot!

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