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Healthy eating and exercise for life

What to Eat When You're Eating Seafood

Fresh, healthy and delicious – all words that come to mind when you think of seafood. Fish comes from the ocean so it’s got to be healthy, right?  Well, yes and no.  Fish is high in protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and many varieties are low in fat so they’re great for those trying to eat healthy.  Unfortunately, many restaurants often fry fish or smoother it in a butter or cream sauce, multiplying its fat content. 

There’s no reason to avoid seafood restaurants, you just have to be aware that some items may be a little “fishy” in terms of calories. 

Starting your meal off with an appetizer may help you resist the urge to overindulge once your meal arrives.  Many appetizers at seafood restaurants are fried and calorie-laden so try to choose an item that’s baked or broiled.  A shrimp cocktail is a good option since it is a smaller portion size and lower in calories.  Keep the following in mind:

3.5 oz. coconut shrimp 277 calories
3.5 oz. crab cakes 178 calories
1 cup of New England clam chowder  163 calories
3.5 oz. shrimp cocktail  91 calories


Choosing the right glass of wine may compliment the meal you’ve chosen, but be careful of serving sizes.  If you choose to have an alcoholic beverage, limit yourself to just one.

12 oz. light beer  100 calories
4 oz. red wine 85 calories
4 oz. white wine 80 calories


As you scan the menu, avoid items that say “fried,” “cream sauce” or “battered.”   Instead look for items that are broiled, baked or poached.  Many restaurants offer a “Catch of the Day” and you can ask this to be cooked the way you like.


Most entrees will come with one or two side items but use caution!  A side item may seem harmless but can pack a lot of calories. 

3.5 oz. fried catfish  226 calories
3.5 oz. fried shrimp 225 calories
3.5 oz. broiled salmon 182 calories
3.5 oz. grilled swordfish 140 calories
3.5 oz. broiled sea scallops 75 calories
1 small order of french fries 300-600 calories
side caesar salad 250-370 calories
1 baked potato
(with 2 TBS. of sour cream)
280 calories
side garden salad
(with light dressing)
150 calories

Here’s just one example of how you can make lighter choices (and how those choices can really make a difference) at your favorite seafood restaurant.

Lighter Version Full Calorie Version
Shrimp Cocktail 91 calories Coconut Shrimp 277 calories
4 oz. White Wine 80 calories 8 oz. White Wine 160 calories
Grilled Swordfish 140 calories Fried Shrimp 225 calories
Garden Salad 150 calories Baked Potato 280 calories
461 calories
942 calories

By making smart choices like the example provided above, you can save up to 481 calories!  Eating at a seafood restaurant can be a healthy affair as long as you choose the healthier options on the menu.  If you’re having a difficult time figuring out the healthiest option, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter.  The staff is trained to know what’s in the food and he/she can help you figure out a good choice.  Remember, seafood can be very healthy, just be mindful of how it is prepared.