How to Eat Healthy at: Chili’s

by | Aug 6, 2015

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