If you’re craving Mexican food, quite often the first thing that pops into one’s mind is a huge plate of nachos or tacos or a multi pound burrito. Nevertheless, calling those foods authentic Mexican cuisine is a bit of a stretch, especially if they’ve been given the American treatment of deep fry or cheese.

Grilled Pineapple Pork Burrito

Very few illusions exist about fast food. Practically everyone knows that fast food is bad for you since it’s packed with fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium. But how bad is Mexican fast food for you? Sure, it’s probably not healthy but everything in moderation, right?

Wrong. For instance, Chipotle, while lots boastful of its practices of sustainable and organic farming, is a bit shy about the caloric content of its food. Independent analysis of the calorie content of a Chipotle vegetarian burrito discovered that it contained more calories than a Quarter Pounder with fries and a soda from McDonald’s. And that’s supposed to be the healthy choice at Chipotle.

Furthermore, Baja Fresh, although not as prevalent, is much more in the red zone than Chipotle. A quesadilla, no sides or beverage, from a Baja Fresh pushes the 1,200 calorie mark and is laced with over two days worth of saturated fat, a main cause of cardiovascular disease. Essentially, if you’d McDonald’s or Burger King for each meal of a day you’d begin to approach these levels of caloric and fat content.

Picking some nachos out of Baja Fresh is equally unsavory. Consuming just one order of nachos, made with cheese and chicken or beef, is the equivalent of eating your whole day’s worth of food. Weighing in at 2,000 calories and contained a day’s worth of sodium and multiple days worth of fat, Baja Fresh nachos represent Mexican-American cuisine taken to the darkest depths.

Even Taco Bell, appearing moderately humble at this point, is a blatant offender with its thoroughly American twist on Mexican cuisine, by producing such aberrations like gorditas, chalupas and umpteen varieties of burritos.

So, what can you do to receive your Mexican fix without snapping the button off your pants? Take good care of what you eat and what you order. Little substitutions can save you plenty of calories in the long run. The majority of these repairs are pretty simple too.

Picking corn over flour tortillas is a fantastic place to start. Corn tortillas only have a fraction of the carbohydrates and calories flour ones do. Although it may not look like much, if you are having several tacos, getting corn tortillas can save you hundreds of calories. Moreover, request many condiments on the side. A huge glob of sour cream smack in the center of your burrito can feel like an anchor once you’ve finished putting that burrito away. However, asking for it on the side lets you’re in control how much you have. Don’t let your diet be dictated by franchise food.

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