Eating out with dietary restrictions can be difficult. It's hard to know what ingredients are actually used, and even when I try to avoid my triggers, I usually end up going home with a stomachache. So when Chipotle announced they were releasing a dietary options menu, I was super excited to check it out.

The menu

tea, coffee
Maisie Guzi

Chipotle's website gives you a bunch of different diet options, ranging from paleo to low carb to vegetarian. Each dietary option also gives you three categories: "go for it", "go easy", and "no go", that detail which foods you can eat according to your specific diet. 

It sounds good in theory, but the lists don't give you any specific information about the ingredients within the foods. Additionally, most of the information they provide is obvious - avoid the tortillas and chips if you're low-carb, avoid the meats if you're vegetarian, etc. 

The menu also doesn't cater to diets for people with stomach conditions, like the low-fodmap diet for IBS. Instead, it focuses on more fad diets, like low-fat and low-calorie. As someone with IBS, it's frustrating that such a popular (and delicious) chain as Chipotle doesn't recognize a condition that affects 10-15% of the world's population.

The test

meat, pepper, vegetable, rice
Heather Harris

Even though I was bummed after looking at the menu online, I still decided to go through with my test of the menu. I knew there was no way I would be able to do low-fodmap without more details about the ingredients, so I decided to go with one of the meal suggestions in the high-protein section: a chicken bowl. 

The bowl boasts 50g of protein, a win for anyone trying to add extra protein to their diet. It also has other yummy and relatively healthy ingredients like brown rice, pinto beans, and guacamole. This combo of lots of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats is super-filling and a well balanced meal all around.

The takeaway

Even though I was disappointed that Chipotle's dietary options menu didn't have a wide variety of options for people with dietary restrictions, it was still helpful to see a breakdown of foods based on their nutritional content. Overall, I think they could have done a better job of catering to more people's nutritional needs.

I wouldn't recommend relying on this menu if you have specific dietary restrictions or allergies, but it's a useful tool if you want to switch up your diet or opt for something healthier. Hopefully one day more restaurants will recognize the struggle of eating out with dietary restrictions, but until then I'll just stick to making my own Chipotle burrito bowls.