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How to Eat Healthy at: Chili’s

Maddi Ginsberg

We know fast food isn’t the greatest but whether it’s convenience, price, or you’re just cravin’ some nuggets, sometimes we can’t avoid the golden arches (or insert-your-favorite-restaurant-here). Don’t fret because we’ve got you covered. Each week we’ll spotlight one fast food joint and tell you what to eat — and what to avoid. This week’s choice? Chili’s.

Chili’s Grill and Bar is known for their Tex-Mex style food and fun, family-friendly atmosphere. Chili’s Grill is well-established around the globe and has even been recognized by Fortune Magazine for great hospitality. But how does this popular restaurant’s nutrition stack up?

If you’re looking for healthy options at Chili’s, it can be a challenge. Chili’s restaurant menu contains a shocking number of 1000+ calorie meals. Like many fast food and chain restaurants, many of their menu items are abnormally high in fat. As you’ll see below, a sandwich Chili’s offers includes a whopping 82 grams of fat, along with 138 grams of net carbs!

Finding healthy food at Chili’s is possible, though. Chili’s menu includes a section called Chili’s Guiltless Grill with some better options, like a Grilled Chicken Salad and a 6-ounce Classic Sirloin with Grilled Avocado. The Mango-Chile Chicken dish we give the nod to below comes from the Guiltless Grill section. And it’s possible to find Chili’s lighter choices elsewhere on the menu too – if you know how to read a recipe description and what to look for and avoid.

We’ve listed a few of their more diet-friendly meals, and which dishes you should steer clear of altogether. In general, avoid fried foods, any side dish that has more calories than a normal meal and high-calorie toppings (we’re talking bacon, cheese, sour cream – lower-calorie toppings like pico de gallo, green onions, peppers and black beans are usually fine). And don’t assume that a salad is automatically a good choice – Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad, topped with tortilla strips and cheese and served with cheese quesadillas, is truly an explosion of calories, with 1,410! Chili’s nutrition information is available here.

Noom pro tip: Beware of calorie density when eating at fast food restaurants. Red meats (like steak), fried foods, and desserts are almost always red foods, meaning their calorie density is high (they have a high calorie count in a small amount of food). Try to have only one red food per meal, and add as many filling, low-calorie green foods (steamed broccoli or green beans, etc.) to your meal as you’d like to help you feel full for less calories and for a longer amount of time. Opting for grilled foods or other cooking methods over fried is a good way to swap red foods out of your meal. Mashed potatoes are always a better choice than french fries, and a grilled, lean protein like skinless chicken breast is always better than a burger. Don’t be shy about asking a server if the kitchen can grill something for you instead of frying if you don’t see something suitable on the menu. And if you’re craving something sweet, try to replace a conventional dessert with fruit instead. If you’re unsure of what color category a food falls into, use your Noom food tracker to find if food is green, yellow, or red.

What to eat:

Fresh Mex Margarita Chicken Bowl
Calories: 740
Fat: 20g
Protein: 36g
Carbs: 106g

Mango-Chile Chicken
Calories: 520
Fat: 17g
Protein: 38g
Carbs: 57g

Caribbean Salad with Seared Shrimp
Calories: 620
Fat: 26g
Protein: 17g
Carbs: 84g

What to avoid:

Boneless Buffalo Wings
Calories: 1090
Fat: 73g
Protein: 49g
Carbs: 59g

Bacon Avocado Chicken Sandwich
Calories: 1580
Fat: 82g
Protein: 73g
Carbs: 138g

Pork Carnitas Taco
Calories: 1250
Fat: 60g
Protein: 79g
Carbs: 99g

3 thoughts on “How to Eat Healthy at: Chili’s”

  1. Erin Hodges says:

    For overall health.. I wouldn’t say “avoid”… those menu items are actually not that bad for you if you make a few adjustments. Take the bacon avocado sandwich.. yes it appears “bad” due to the calorie count, but alot of the calories are from a heart healthy fat of avocado. Keep the avocado but say no to the “pesto mayo” then use 1-2 slices of bacon instead of 5-6 to help lower the fat further without completely getting rid of the bacon. Lastly, if you want to cut carbs slightly, use only half the pretzel bun instead of the whole. INSTEAD of avoiding the items completely, just be knowledgeable about what the items are comprised of and make adjustments to fit into your macros better. OR you could even split the sandwich with a friend and get a side salad as its a pretty big sandwich 🙂 Basically… avoiding foods leads to guilt and feeling unsatisfied with the meal. Instead get exactly what you want and enjoy it in moderation or adjusted slightly.

  2. for 3+ years my husband and I have been vegan, which makes dining out a bit challenging. BUT, I see that as a good thing as we control the number of calories, not to mention, sodium and fat that we consume and are not surprised or shocked by what dining out can do to good intentions. i.e. Bacon Avocado Chicken Sandwich 1580 calories… Then, with that there would be a salad at best or fries, maybe a beer or two… At the end of the meal, it’s reasonable to expect that you’ve shot your calorie budget for the day and maybe then some…… Of course, I know I’m spoiled by my husband who is a fabulous cook and takes great pride in what he brings to the table. (pun intended).

  3. Katie D says:

    Worse than the calorie content of the food at Chili’s is the SODIUM. It’s off the charts.

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