If all the excitement of Cinco de Mayo raised your interest in Mexican cuisine but has you worried about your diet, don’t assume you’ll have to throw your healthy diet out the window. After all, there’s more to Mexican food than cheesy nachos, greasy burritos, and refried beans.
And if you want to visit Mexico, you should know that with the right food swaps and a thorough understanding of the food options available there, you can continue feeding your body a balanced and nutritious diet.
The trick to eating well in Mexico is knowing what meals to avoid and when you should substitute ingredients. Generally, you’ll want to stay away from anything that’s fried, such as refried beans, or cooked with tons of oil, such as tortilla chips. Specific foods to avoid include creamy sauces, carnitas (a pan-fried pork dish), nachos, chimichangas, flour tortillas, and flan (a Mexican dessert made from milk, eggs, and sugar). And even though it’s Mexico, try to limit your margarita consumption—they’re packed with sugar and contain an insanely high number of empty calories.
If you’re sighing already, don’t worry—there are plenty of delicious and healthy alternatives to enjoy.
While we just banned flour tortillas from your Mexican diet, you can eat corn tortillas without having to buy new pants. Other healthy foods include tostadas, ceviche (fresh fish, diced veggies, lime juice), beans (that aren’t refried), pozole (a broth based soup made with hominy, chili peppers, capsaicin, and pork), and grilled seafood, lean meat, and poultry. You could also try out this healthy Mexican food recipe if you’re cooking for your family and friends.
Additionally, remember that sticking with small portions will be key in Mexico—especially if eliminating enchiladas from your diet is too much to ask for. While this habit should always be a part of your healthy eating routine, it gives you the chance to enjoy some guilty pleasures. If you want flan, for example, go for it—just be sure to share it with others. Even healthy foods, such as guacamole, will need to be portioned if they’re high in fat.
And while you should drink plenty of water during your trip, stick to bottled water only—unpurified tap water can cause a lot of health issues. This also means you should avoid certain foods that may have been washed in unclean water, such as uncooked fruits and vegetables. While you shouldn’t have to worry about this if you’re staying at a resort, you may want to take extra precaution by washing raw fruits and veggies thoroughly with bottled water before consuming.
A trip to Mexico doesn’t have to take a toll on your diet. You can travel, enjoy the local cuisine, and eat healthy. Try out this additional healthy Mexican food recipe if you plan on spending a night in for dinner.
Photo from Don Rafa.