Think you have to give up your favorite quick-service Mexican when you’re following a diabetic diet? Here’s how to eat healthy at Chipotle.
When you think “healthy meals,” Mexican-inspired fast food like you’ll find at Chipotle is not the first thing that comes to mind. But if you look beyond the carb-loaded tortillas, heaping piles of rice, and greasy chips, you’ll find that the menu at Chipotle also features plenty of lower carb, protein- and fiber-rich options that you can focus on to keep your meal—and your blood sugar—balanced. Especially when you watch your portion sizes.
If you’re managing diabetes, your ideal meal could have around 400-500 calories, 45-60 grams of carbohydrates, and fewer than 10% of its calories from saturated fat. It should also contribute to your daily fiber goal: 25 grams for women and 38 for men. (Here's more on why fiber is so healthy for diabetes.) Keeping sodium to a minimum is also important, since the American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 2,300 mg per day. Restaurant meals are notoriously high in sodium, so be sure to keep salt extra low the rest of the day any time you eat out.
Read on for some of the healthiest diabetes-friendly meals at Chipotle:
1. Salad bowl (with chicken)
What it includes: romaine lettuce + chicken + brown rice + fajita vegetables + tomato salsa + tomatillo-red chile salsa
If you’re a fan of Chipotle’s burrito bowl, we suggest opting for a salad instead—it’s made with the same ingredients, but in slightly different proportions (the important difference: more lettuce, less rice). Boost the fiber content by choosing brown rice instead of white and fajita vegetables. And two flavorful salsas provide loads of flavor so you can skip the high-cal salad dressing.
Nutrition information: 475 calories, 13 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 125 mg cholesterol, 1705 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 38 g protein
2. Salad bowl (vegetarian)
What it includes: romaine + tofu sofritas + brown rice + fajita vegetables + tomatillo green-chili salsa
For a meat-free burrito-in-a-bowl, opt for tofu sofritas—they’re a lower-carbohydrate plant-based protein than beans, so you’ll still have room for rice. Fajita vegetables add more fiber and substance, while tomatillo salsa provides enough flavor so you can skip the optional dressing on the side.
Nutrition information: 405 calories, 16 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1165 mg sodium, 56 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 14 g protein
What it includes: tortilla + chicken + fajita vegetables + fresh tomato salsa + romaine lettuce
If it’s the doughy flour tortilla of a burrito you crave (we can’t blame you!) it can be done on a diabetic diet—as long as you cut back on the carbs everywhere else. Fill your burrito with protein and vegetables instead of rice and high-calorie condiments like guacamole and sour cream.
Nutrition information: 550 calories, 16 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 125 mg cholesterol, 1610 mg sodium, 57 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 41 g protein
What it includes: crispy corn tortillas + steak + fajita vegetables + tomatillo-green chili salsa + cheese
The first step of ordering tacos at Chipotle involves deciding whether you want soft flour or crispy corn tortillas. Repeat after us: The answer is *always* crispy corn. Surprised? A serving of three corn tortillas provides 50 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and 480 mg of sodium fewer than the same number of flour tortillas—it also gives you an extra gram of fiber compared with the flour ones, and 17% of your daily calcium need.
Nutrition information: 495 calories, 23 g fat, 8.5 g saturated fat, 110 mg cholesterol, 930 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 31 g protein
5. Burrito bowl
What it includes: brown rice + carnitas + fajita vegetables + tomatillo red-chile salsa + romaine lettuce
If nothing but a burrito bowl will do, we have good news. It is possible to stay within your diabetic diet goals as long as you balance out the base with a protein like carnitas and loads of low-calorie vegetables on top. (Check out these non-starchy vegetables for a low-carb diet.)
Nutrition information: 475 calories, 18 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 1290 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 28 g protein
6. Kid's cheese quesadilla
What it includes: tortilla + cheese + guacamole + black beans + mandarin orange + water to drink
Kids’ meals at Chipotle provide the opportunity for a lot of variety in smaller portions, which can add up to a perfectly adult-appropriate meal. Bonus: Since the kids' servings are smaller, you can afford to add in some guac—the amount added to adult portions is generally too much to stay within your calorie goals. Plus dessert!
Nutrition information: 435 calories, 22.5 g fat, 6.5 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 700 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrates, 9.5 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 16 g protein
7. Kid's build your own
What it includes: 2 crispy corn tortillas + guacamole + pinto beans + fresh tomato salsa + blueberries + organic milk
The smaller portion sizes in the kid’s plate make it possible for you to have high-calorie guacamole and carb-rich beans along with your tortillas and salsa; you’ll still have room for berries for dessert and milk on the side.
Nutrition information: 465 calories, 20 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 765 mg sodium, 47.5 g carbohydrates, 11.5 g fiber, 14.5 g sugar, 16 g protein