Chili’s is one of the top-visited restaurants in the United States.
If you have been wondering can I eat at Chili’s while pregnant?
Yes, you can!
Chili’s is one of the best restaurants you can eat at during pregnancy because they have so many healthy options.
So before you go let’s talk about it.
Can I eat at Chili’s while pregnant?
Yes, you can eat at Chili’s while pregnant.
Our OB/GYN Dr. Doug Penta, MD said that generally speaking it is safe to eat at Chili’s while pregnant.
Chili’s has an extensive menu with lots of healthy options, many of them are pregnancy-safe and most can be modified to remove any ingredients that you should not eat when pregnant.
You’ll need to follow a few simple tips when ordering and making smart choices is important.
- Order off the guiltless grill menu.
When choosing your dinner pick items that are baked, broiled, or grilled.
Chili’s has many pregnancy-friendly, lower-calorie menu options and they even offer a menu section called the guiltless grill.
Choose dishes that have grilled chicken or grilled fish or grilled shrimp as the main entree, and order asparagus or broccoli as your side.
- Order the salad and soup combo
They have an incredible selection of salads that are not only delicious but are packed with nutrition that both you and your baby need.
- House Salad: Tomato, cucumber, shredded Cheddar cheese, and croutons on mixed greens.
- Chicken House Salad: Chicken, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, shredded cheese, garlic croutons.
- Shrimp House Salad: Shrimp, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, shredded cheese, garlic croutons.
- Soup & Salad Combo: Chili or southwestern chicken soup with a side house salad
- Quesadilla Explosion Salad: Grilled chicken, cheese, tomatoes, corn & black bean salsa, tortilla strips, and cilantro with citrus-balsamic. Served with cheese quesadillas.
- Santa Fe Chicken Salad: Grilled chicken, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips, house-made ranch & a spicy Santa Fe sauce.
- Ancho Salmon House Salad: Atlantic salmon, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, shredded cheese, garlic croutons with choice of dressing.
If you have a salad at Chili’s you should avoid blue cheese and caesar dressing.
They are not safe to consume during pregnancy.
Ask that salads be made with no blue cheese crumbles.
It is safe to eat ranch dressing at Chili’s.
They use a commercially prepared dressing that is pasteurized.
- If you choose a burger or fried chicken or pasta watch the portion size
You’ll want to limit your consumption of dishes made with sauces that are loaded with sugar and heavy cream.
If you must have a burger or fried chicken then limit it to once in a while.
Go for the grilled option as much as possible and watch the portion size.
- If you order an appetizer share it with the table and only eat a small portion.
Chili’s appetizers are high in calories, fat, and sodium.
Your best option is going to be to share chips and salsa appetizers or have a house salad.
If you do go for one of the deep-fried high-calorie appetizers watch your portion size.
Enjoy a small serving.
What can pregnant women eat at Chili’s?
Here are a few of Chili’s pregnancy-friendly menu options:
- Ancho Salmon: Atlantic Salmon made with cilantro pesto, and queso fresco, served with Mexican rice and steamed broccoli. Ask that the Queso Fresco be swapped out for cheddar. It is a safer option. According to the CDC, Queso Fresco has been linked to Listeria infections even when made with pasteurized milk.
- Steak, chicken, or shrimp fajitas: With grilled bell peppers & onions and served with Mexican rice, black beans, and flour tortillas.
- Chipotle Chicken Fresh Mex Bowl: Grilled chicken, pico de gallo, mixed greens, Mexican rice, corn & black bean salsa, avocado, shredded cheese, and house-made ranch.
- Chipotle Shrimp Fresh Mex Bowl: Shrimp, pico de gallo, greens, Mexican rice, corn & black bean salsa, avocado, shredded cheese, chipotle pesto, house-made ranch.
- Margharita Chicken: Grilled chicken with Pico de gallo, tortilla strips, Mexican rice, and black beans.
- Bacon Avocado Grilled Chicken Sandwich: Grilled chicken, bacon, swiss, avocado, sauteed onions, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a toasted buttery roll. Swap out the swiss cheese for cheddar to be safe.
- Soup and Salad: A combination of soup with a side house salad.
What are some menu items that I should avoid while pregnant?
You should avoid the following menu items while pregnant:
- Fried Foods – Boneless chicken wings, fried mozzarella, and Chicken Crispers.
Having said that sharing a deep-fried appetizer with other people and having a small portion is fine.
As long as eating fried foods does not make you feel sick.
Some women find that during pregnancy eating fried foods causes them to have heartburn or makes their morning sickness symptoms much worse.
- Drinks made with alcohol – Alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy.
There is no known safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy.
Chili’s does have a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks and a mocktail may be exactly what you need!
- Smokehouse Combos: You should skip the smokehouse combo because it is too high in calories.
It also has smoked sausage, which is probably safe if well cooked, but with so many other guilt-free menu items available why risk it?
- Texas Cheese Fries: While this appetizer is delicious it is high in fat and calories.
If you do decide to order it, plan to share it with the table and consider getting a half order.
Or you can take the leftovers home to have the next day.
Can I eat the Chili’s Bacon Chicken Ranch Quesadilla while pregnant?
Yes, but it is 1670 calories and loaded with fat and it has almost 3000mg of sodium.
This is a dish that you should either split with someone else or only eat half and take half home for the next day.
It is not a healthy option and should be considered once in a while to treat meals during pregnancy.
You are much better off eating a meal off the guiltless grill menu.
Is Chili’s queso made with pasteurized milk?
Chili’s Queso is commercially-made so it probably is made with pasteurized milk.
But the CDC, warns against eating Queso Fresco during pregnancy.
Chili’s Nutritional information for pregnancy-friendly menu options:
Steak, chicken, or shrimp fajitas :
Chipotle Chicken Fresh Mex Bowl:
Chipotle Shrimp Fresh Mex Bowl
Bacon Avocado Grilled Chicken Sandwich:
How can I ensure I am eating safely at Chili’s while pregnant?
- Stick to non-alcoholic drinks
- Order off the guiltless grill menu.
- Have the soup and salad combo
- Make sure your meal is completely cooked.
- Avoid any unpasteurized dairy products
- Do not eat any raw or undercooked meats of seafood.
Helpful hints for eating at Chili’s during pregnancy:
1. Call ahead for a table
Chili’s does not take reservations, but they do have call-ahead seating.
Getting on the waitlist prior to arrival will help to ensure that you get a table at a time that is convenient for you and you won’t be standing and waiting too long.
2. Plan to start with soup and salad
Chili’s offers a soup and salad combo.
Start with that.
Or at least start with a salad.
Chili’s is one of the best restaurants you can eat at during pregnancy because they have so many healthy options
3. Make smart meal choices
When ordering your meal, consider how you are feeling.
If you’re feeling tired or nauseous, for example, you might want to avoid heavy meals or foods that are high in fat and grease.
Instead, opt for lighter fare such as soup, or grilled chicken, or shrimp.
Also, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your meal to stay hydrated.
4. Ask your server for any modifications to your meal
If you have any special requests or needs, don’t hesitate to ask the waitstaff for assistance.
For example, if you want your chicken or fish or shrimp cooked a little longer don’t hesitate to ask.
If you order the fiesta lime chicken ask for it without cheese to save on the calories!
5. Ask for a take-out box
If you are getting full ask for a take-out box
That way you can enjoy the rest of your meal the next day.
If you want a dessert get one to go and enjoy with your partner or friends later on at home.
6. Choose broccoli instead of french fries for your side dish.
It can be tempting to order french fries as a side with your meal, but you’ll save fat and calories if you go with fresh vegetables instead.
If you want potatoes, you are better off getting a side of mashed potatoes.
Broccoli or garlicky green beans are both low in fat and calories and full of essential vitamins and minerals.
7. Enjoy your meal guilt-free.
Eating out during pregnancy can be a special time.
Chili’s offers a variety of delicious and nutritious meals, so no need to feel guilty!
8. Order off the lunch menu you can.
One of the best ways to be sure you don’t overeat is to order a smaller portion of your Chili’s favorite off their lunch menu.
What foods should I not eat while pregnant?
- Foods that are not pasteurized– certain types of cheese like soft cheeses, Brie, Blue Cheese, etc.
- Certain types of fish– shark, swordfish, anything high in mercury
- Raw eggs including egg nog, hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise, homemade eggnog, and runny eggs.
- Undercooked meats– lunch meats. Deli meats.
- Hot foods that are not “hot”, avoid hot foods that have been sitting out without a warming source. Same for foods that should be eaten cold. If no ice or refrigeration source is keeping the food cold, take a pass.
- Caffeine– soda, chocolate, and energy drinks. (Limit your caffeine to less than 200 mg a day)
- Herbal Teas (There are so many ingredients in herbal teas so it is best to avoid them simply. Green tea is OK.)
- Alcohol: There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. Avoid sauces made with alcohol, desserts made with alcohol, and all alcoholic beverages.
Eating out during pregnancy’s first trimester:
When eating out during the first trimester of pregnancy, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure that you and your baby are safe and healthy.
Here are some tips:
- Do not eat raw or undercooked items, especially meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs, you are at an increased risk of foodborne illness during pregnancy. Especially from Listeria.
- Be cautious with foods that are high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel, as these can be harmful to your developing baby and may cause birth defects.
- Choose foods that are rich in folic acids, such as leafy greens to help support the healthy development of your baby’s neural tube.
- If you suffer from morning sickness or all-day sickness avoid foods that are fried or greasy.
- Eating small meals can help you keep your energy up and morning sickness symptoms reduced.
- Do not drink alcohol. There is no known safe amount of alcohol you can consume during pregnancy.
- Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets during the first trimester of pregnancy. You can never be sure of how fresh the food is, the preparation method, or the temperature at which it has been kept.
- Yes, you can eat chili during early pregnancy if you feel up to it.
- Limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive amounts of caffeine. These can all lead to unhealthy weight gain and other problems during pregnancy.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important for both your health and the baby’s health.
- Don’t skip meals. Eating small, frequent meals will help to keep your energy up and prevent you from overeating later on.