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Chipotle: your best friend or worst enemy?

Everyone knows Chipotle as the place that serves giant burritos the size of a toddler.  What most people don’t know, however, is that you can actually get a well-balanced and genuinely healthy meal at Chipotle.  It is true that a lot of fast food today offers little nutritional benefits besides artificial ingredients, and excess fat, sugar, and salt. However, Chipotle is a great example of a popular fast food chain that gives you the option of ordering a very healthy and nutritious meal.

First of all, Chipotle uses meat without hormones and antibiotics, offers organic and local produce, and serves dairy from cows without hormones whenever possible.  This is a lot more than most fast food chains offer.  Second of all, Chipotle gives you the option of completely customizing your order, which puts the responsibility of choosing a well-rounded meal in your hands. You can either make a very nutritious meal, or an unhealthy meal depending on what choices you make.

So, what does a healthy meal look like at Chipotle?

Here’s one example:

Start out with a bowl with black beans or brown rice for some high fiber carbs. Add some fajita veggies and chicken or carnitas (pork) for a veggie and lean protein. For toppings, go with corn and tomato salsa for added veggies and then finish it off with guacamole for your healthy fat. Remember that although carbs aren’t bad, you can get too much of a good thing. If you order a burrito, for example, consider skipping the rice.  Also remember that not all fats were created equal. The type of fat that is found in cheese and sour cream is nowhere near as healthy as the fat in guacamole. But, if you really love cheese or sour cream in your burrito, consider asking for just a little.  If not, just skip them altogether.
If you are more of a numbers person like I am—here’s the difference between good and bad at chipotle:

Bad: Steak burrito with rice, cheese, beans, guacamole, and sour cream
Calories: 1100
Fat: 51g (20g saturated)
Carbs: 102g
Protein: 58g
Good: Chicken burrito bowl with brown rice, veggies, guacamole and tomato salsa
Calories: 500
Fat: 20g fat (5g saturated)
Carbs: 40g
Protein: 39g
So, next time you go to Chipotle, realize that whether your meal is your best friend or worst enemy is completely in your hands.
Image source: http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/menu/menu.aspx 

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