We all have bad diet moments. Here's how to have Taco Bell without the next day taco calorie blues!
In a somewhat laughable attempt to jump on the health bandwagon, Taco Bell recently changed its marketing campaign from Fourth Meal to the Drive-Thru Diet. Regrettably, our lovable bug-eyed Chihuahua has been retired and replaced with Christine – a recently slim figurehead oddly reminiscent of Subway’s Jared.
Christine is selling you former fourth meal addicts a “new and improved” healthy Taco Bell menu, which advertises 7 items under 9 grams of fat. Sounds great right?! Not quite. What Christine doesn’t mention is that the Taco Bell menu is over 100 food items long (seriously, I counted.) So what to make of the other 97+ meal options? Is it possible to navigate the sea of chalupas and gorditas without spending the entire next day on the treadmill burning off Taco Bell calories?? Is Taco Bell really just a Mexican-twist on McDonalds?
You can get your Tex-Mex fix without sacrificing your waistline (not to mention your arteries, heart, gastrointestinal tract, etc.) If you are aware of the hidden sources of fat, calories, and sodium, you can order just about any item down to size. How, exactly, do we do this you may be wondering? …Glad you asked!
1. Fresco-fy it!
This seems to have flown under the radar, but Taco Bell now offers a “Fresco style” option for nearly every menu item. By asking for your taco or burrito a la Fresco, your goopy orange cheese and creamy sauces (remember, we dislike creamy condiments) are replaced with a freshly made salsa of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Most Fresco style options have 25% less fat and up to 100 less calories than the originals. And if the fat factor doesn’t persuade you, consider this – there are 25 ingredients in Taco Bell’s Creamy Jalapeno Sauce, including: disodium guanylate, calcium disodium EDTA, propylene glycol alginate … the list goes on. Chemicals in my quesadilla? No thanks!
2. Steer Clear of Salads
I know. A nutritionist telling you to avoid salad - shocking. But hear me out. Taco Bell salads are so repulsively awful for your health, the miniscule amount of dietary fiber tucked beneath that iceburg lettuce is simply not enough to warrant consideration. All of Taco Bell’s salads contain upwards of 1500 milligrams of sodium, which is well above half your daily allowance. Add 770-910 calories and 41-57 grams of fat, and you’ve consumed almost an entire day’s recommended intake. On salad. Without dressing. Like Carolyn said, be weary of unhealthy salads!
3. Choose Tacos
This does not mean seven tacos. Think more along the lines of one or two. It truly is a challenge to find Taco Bell cuisine not loaded with sodium, fat, and calories, but your basic taco turns out to be pretty solid (exclude from this any item with “double decker” or “supreme” in the title):
Total Fat: 7-14 g
Sodium: 330-840 mg
And just to prove my previous point, look what happens when we Fresco-fy!
Original Grilled Steak Soft Taco: 250 calories, 14g fat, 710mg sodium
“Fresco Style” Grilled Steak Soft Taco: 160 calories, 4.5g fat, 600mg sodium
Pretty noticeable improvement, huh? And if you’re still hungry, try adding a side of Mexican Rice or Pinto Beans (nix the cheese).
5. Know Your Burrito
Everybody loves a good burrito, and I fully recognize that sometimes those wimpy tacos aren’t enough to do the trick. But before you opt for the $.89 (a.k.a Beefy 5-layer) Burrito, ask yourself what you’re really paying for. If you’re looking to get 550 calories and 22g of fat a pop, then please, go nuts. Otherwise, try one of these for a healthier take on things:
Bean Burrito: 370 calories, 10g fat, 1270mg sodium, 14g protein
Burrito Supreme (Beef, Chicken, or Steak): 380-420 calories, 12-15g fat, 1340-1420mg sodium, 18-21g protein
You will want to avoid any burrito prefaced by the words Grilled Stuft, Cheesy, or ½ pound. And as always, try going Fresco!
Now, I have to admit that even I was shocked by what I’m about to divulge. And apparently I am into proving my own point today because check it out – the worst menu item at Taco Bell is:
Chipotle Steak Taco Salad with Zesty Dressing
Total Fat: 77 g
Sodium: 1950 mg
I can’t even identify a single food in that mess! So take this opportunity and run with it – avoid those Taco Bell salads and choose a healthy burrito, taco, or almost anything fresco instead.