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Eating Healthier at Chain Restaurants

Chili's

Chili's Logo

If anyone wonders why there are so many health problems in America, they don't need to look much further than chain restaurants. "Fast Casual" restaurants, as they are known in the business, are amazingly bad for you and Chili's is the granddaddy of food that leads to illness and the shortening of your lifespan.

If you are reading this, it is possible that you care more about your health. It might be that you already know Chili's is bad for you, but you may not know just how bad. (If you are an executive at Chili's, shame on you for putting your patrons' health in harm's way. You should be ashamed of yourself.)

Sadly, there is a lot that you just can't even consider eating based on the outrageous amounts of sodium. The following entire categories on the menu are all well over 1,000 milligrams of sodium:

Texas Baby Back Ribs
Big Mouth Burgers
Crispers & More
For the Table
Fresh Mex
Kids Entrees
Kids Sides
Lunch Combos
Sandwiches w/o Fries
Smokehouse Combos
Steaks

You might think that the category Guiltless Grill might be a good choice, but as with most items on their menu none in the section contain less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Not sure who is "guiltless" here – maybe the leadership at Chili's who feel no guilt about you and how unhealthy their food is?

As with most fast casual restaurants you simply should not visit Chili's at all, ever, but you might get caught with no other option. If you do, the list below are choices that are a little bit healthier. Mind you, there are meals here that can't really be ones we recommend – again, mostly because of the amount of sodium. In order to have something to recommend, we actually set the bar a little higher, allowing over 700 milligrams of sodium, and there is still not a lot that are good choices – they're just better than the rest of the terrible food at Chili's.

The salads are pretty outrageous. We did include two composed salads with almost 1,200 milligrams of sodium apiece. This was a reluctant choice, but at least you can have some confidence in the result. Those choices are the Caribbean Salad with Chicken or Shrimp. Getting the dressing on the side and only adding as much as you really need will help.

Of all the choices, making yourself a veggie plate at Chili's might be the best choice. You could bring in the meal at around 1,000 milligrams of sodium and under 750 calories.

Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet

  Cals Fat (g) Sod (mg) Fiber (g)
Fajitas Mix & Match Choose 2 or 3
Grilled Steak (1 portion) 240 15 710 0
Grilled Chicken (1 portion) 140 3.5 710 0
Seared Shrimp (1 portion) 60 2 810 0
All Fajitas Include
All-Natural Corn Tortillas (4 each) 210 2.5 20 5
Side Rice 160 4.5 480 1
Salads As Served
Caesar Salad 240 19 410 2
Caesar Salad (LC) 190 17 290 1
Caribbean Salad 530 23 340 8
Caribbean Salad w/ Grilled Chicken 690 27 1180 8
Caribbean Salad w/ Seared Shrimp 600 25 1150 8
Fresco Salad 130 10 240 1
Fresco Salad (LC) 70 5 130 1
House Salad (LC) w/o Dressing 80 3.5 140 1
House Salad w/o Dressing 150 7 290 2
Ancho Chile Ranch (1.5 fl oz) 170 17 350 0
Ancho Chile Ranch (2 fl oz) 220 22 470 0
Avocado Ranch (1.5 fl oz) 140 14 260 1
Avocado Ranch (2 fl oz) 180 19 350 1
Bleu Cheese (1.5 fl oz) 270 29 280 0
Bleu Cheese (2 fl oz) 360 38 370 0
Caesar (1.5 fl oz) 220 23 240 0
Caesar (2 fl oz) 290 31 310 0
Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette (1.5 fl oz) 250 25 240 0
Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette (2 fl oz) 330 34 320 0
Honey Lime (1.5 fl oz) 200 17 220 0
Honey Lime (2 fl oz) 270 23 290 0
Honey Lime Vinaigrette (1.5 fl oz) 130 12 230 0
Honey Lime Vinaigrette (2 fl oz) 180 17 310 0
Honey Mustard (1.5 fl oz) 200 18 360 0
Honey Mustard (2 fl oz) 270 24 480 0
Ranch (1.5 fl oz) 170 18 300 0
Ranch (2 fl oz) 230 24 400 0
Santa Fe (1.5 fl oz) 210 22 530 0
Santa Fe (2 fl oz) 280 30 710 0
Thousand Island (1.5 fl oz) 200 20 390 0
Thousand Island (2 fl oz) 270 26 520 0
Our Good Sides As Served
Asparagus & Garlic Roasted Tomatoes 70 1.5 340 4
Coleslaw 240 19 260 1
Mexican Rice 160 4.5 480 1
Roasted Street Corn 430 28 320 3
Steamed Broccoli 40 0 250 4
Sweet Corn on the Cob 220 7 360 3
Soups & Chili As Served
Clam Chowder - Bowl 370 26 780 1
Clam Chowder - Cup 190 13 390 1
Loaded Baked Potato - Cup 240 16 700 1
Southwest Chicken - Cup 120 5 830 1
Extras
Avocado Slices 80 7 0 3
Fresh Guacamole - Small Side 130 11 320 5

Posted: September 28, 2020