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Beware Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl!

I enjoy Chipotle. They have good fresh food. I learned long ago however that good fresh food does not always mean good for the waist line. Most everyone http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-chipotle-restaurant-chelsea-new-york-mexican-grill-chain-more-than-restaurants-around-world-image39039407watching their weight knows to avoid the burrito at Chipotle and opt for the burrito bowl instead. The burrito is more like a body pillow—the tortilla alone adding an additional 300 calories.

So indeed the burrito bowl is better. Nonetheless the calories can really add up if you’re not careful. Lesson learned from my client. “I should have looked up the information before I went. But I honestly had no idea. I thought I was eating so healthy.” Yes, she was but as I’ve written before it’s easy to overeat even healthy food.

This was the choice she made. Really terrific options if you consider them individually—chicken (terrific lean protein), black beans (fabulous fiber and good protein), fajita vegetables (veggies, yay!), brown rice (love whole grains!), corn salsa (corn—a whole grain—and veggies), and guacamole (avocado—good healthy fat!). Yet once the layers start adding on, so do the calories.

Blog pic - burrito bowl before

Look what happens when all added together—whew, over 800 calories and 1,600 mg of sodium (70 percent of the recommended daily intake). I must say though, fiber is beyond fabulous at one whole day’s worth for a woman!

(This choice I might note is absolutely fine for a growing boy, active male, or super active young female. However the majority of my clientele don’t fall into those categories.)

What would have been better? Looking at Chipotle’s online nutrition calculator, I made a few modifications and came up with this. I would though ask for double maybe even triple the fajita veggies—at 20 cal per serving, can’t beat that.

Blog pic - burrito bowl after

Even with the extra veggies and a bit of saturated fat from the cheese in my modified version, we’re still looking at a significantly better option with far fewer calories (less than 500) and sodium. Fiber is still terrific at over 15 grams.

I am very much looking forward to the end of 2015 when all restaurants with over 20 locations will be required to list caloric information at point-of-purchase, on menu boards and menus. Many have already started to. Granted calories don’t tell the whole story—sodium, saturated fat, sugar, fiber, etc are important but at least there will be disclosure. Disclosure much need by consumers who want to know.


Registered dietitian nutritionist Jennifer Neily has long been an advocate for disclosure on restaurant menus. Working individually with patients and clients for nearly 20 years, Neily has realized when it comes to dining out, restaurants can pose a major challenge to healthful eating. Even if people are more aware of better choices it still can result in caloric intake beyond what it takes to maintain a healthy weight.

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