Eating Out with Diabetes: 12 Tips for Mexican Restaurants

Keep blood sugar levels in check, even on Taco Tuesday.

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Tortillas, rice, and beans—why so many carbs? Carbohydrates are a necessary part of the diet, but too many carbohydrates can spell trouble for someone with diabetes. The trick to Mexican dining is mastering portion sizes and being savvy with your carb choices. These tips from nutritionist Sharon Richter, RD, make partaking in Taco Tuesday with diabetes a little easier.

  1. Order tequila instead of a margarita. If you’re planning to imbibe, plain tequila on the rocks will complement your tacos nicely without loading you up with sweets.

  2. Avoid anything deep-fried. That includes tortilla chips. Ask your server if you can have vegetables (like jicama, radishes, or bell pepper) to dip in your salsa or guac instead.

  3. Choose your carb. Many Mexican dishes come with multiple sources of carbs, so pick one and stick to it, whether it’s a tortilla, rice, or beans. (If you’re eating a vegetarian entree, the beans will count as your protein rather than your carb.)

  4. Don’t fear the guac. Yes, guacamole is high in fat, but it’s the good-for-you, monounsaturated fat found in avocado. Add about half a cup of this to your dish for a rich flavor boost that’s easier on the arteries than cheese, which contains saturated fat.

  5. Split a splurgy appetizer among everyone at the table if you’re craving something that is a little heavy, like a quesadilla.

  6. Make ceviche your go-to app. It’s a light and refreshing seafood dish with citrus and other seasoning.

  7. Avoid sugary sauces like mole.

  8. Say no to burritos. Mission-style burritos are tortillas packed with beans, rice, and some type of protein (i.e. a LOT of carbs).

  9. Look for a taco salad. But skip the deep-fried shell or crunchy bits of tortilla that might be sprinkled on top.

  10. Try fajitas. In many Mexican restaurants, you will get to assemble the fajita yourself, so you’ll be in control of the proportions in the tortilla. Hint: The more veggies, the better.

  11. Try soup for an entree, especially one with a clear broth.

  12. Order fish tacos. Fish is a great protein for diabetes. Richter likes to order a platter of four tacos, and then take the filling from two of the tacos and stuff them into the other two. The result? Half the carbs (but for nearly the same amount of food). Just make sure the fish isn’t breaded and fried.