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Suggestions please - minimizing calories/fat

Hi everyone,

I love to eat, and I especially love to eat rich food in large quantities. It's caught up with me, and lately I've been trying to significantly lower my calorie and fat intake. As a result, I usually order only a salad or grilled chicken when I go out, or else I take only two bites and eat something else when I get home. Any suggestions for restaurants in Boston or Cambridge where I can get yummy and interesting food that's on the lighter side, and where I won't leave the restaurant sill hungry?

Thanks so much!

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  1. Kaze or ShabuZen in Chinatown would be a good start. You can get a platter of vegetables and some thinly sliced chicken or lean beef or seafood. Cook it all in a delicious broth and dip in some soy or chili sauce. If you avoid the noodles, it's a pretty light, healthy and low fat meal.

    41 Essex St, Boston, MA 02111

    1. I find it's not too hard to eat light at most places - some kind of raw fish or broth based soup as an appetizer, seafood entree with sauce on the side, and a veggies side with olive oil instead of butter. It is hard to choose a restaurant based on eating healthy since most offer such a wide variety - when i am dieting i just make sure to look at the menu before I go to decide on the healthy options and then not tempt myself by looking again when I get there just ordering what I already decided on. Good luck!

      1 Reply
      1. re: thegirlwholovestoeat

        Brown rice sushi is always a good option (no tempura rolls of course). I have found brown rice sushi at Snappy Sushi on newbury street, douzo on Dartmouth St , and Samurai on Boylston st.

        131 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116

        Snappy Sushi
        144 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116

      2. I can't really suggest a restaurant because I am not in your area, but I have been cutting back for the past 5 months and lost around 18 lbs. I did this by eating 3 meals a day, always including a protein and avoiding too many carbs. When I dine out, I usually order a meat based app and a salad and that is enough to satisfy me. I try to stick to 1500 calories or less and write down everything I eat.

        If I can do it, anyone can!

        1. Posted about Erbaluce on several threads here, but that is an excellent choice for dining out if not focused on salads or sashimi and the like. The chef tries to avoid using animal fats as flavor enhancers; he uses vegetable, fruit, and herbal flavorings instead to heighten flavors, and it works fantastically in most cases. Had a few lean-protein courses there (and plenty of vegetables) that were incredibly satisfying and left us feeling sated but not overfed. Much lower on the fat scale than most restaurants I think.

          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

          1 Reply
          1. re: Zatan

            I second Erbaluce. It's one of the few restaurants around where I feel confident that my meal isn't drowning in fat.

            It's eye opening to check out the nutritional information that's available for some restaurants (mostly chains are the ones that post this info on their websites, but one can assume the data could be applied to most restaurants).

            When I dine out I focus on vegetables, shrimp, and fish.

            I also eat VERY leanly for the majority of the time so that I can be a wee bit more relaxed when dining out. High fiber cereals (cascadian farms clifford crunch), soup, vegetables, gardenburgers, etc.


          2. Sushi is an obvious choice, if you're into that and you stick the simpler stuff (no deep fried maki of course).
            Chinatown or Super 88 for pho - as long as you stick with pho tai or pho ga rather than the fattier cuts, a bowl of pho is around 8 or 9 WW points. I go easy on the noodles.

            After years of WW on and off though, what's always worked best for me is to "bank" points (or calories, what have you) to save up for a meal , and then get what I want within reason.

            1. Oh knclouse, I feel your pain. I think it's really hard to eat out when you're trying to take off a few lbs., frankly - the temptation is too great for me, most times. That said, the advice about moderation, etc. is all good. We eat a ton of Asian food, and there it's much easier to make "healthy choices" - few creamy sauces (although coconut milk in Thai has a lot of calories) and an emphasis on fresh veggies helps you along. I'd recommend Pho Viet at Super 88 in Allston - the veggie Pho has *loads* of vegetables and some nice rice noodles to give you a carb fix. Hot pot at Shabu Zen (Chinatown or Allston) is a great choice. Any of the steamed options at Chinese restaurants are good - lean protein plus vegetables.

              Otherwise, if you can, I'd cook at home more - head over to the Home Cooking board for inspiration or start a new post . . . .

              Good luck!


              Pho Viet
              1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

              Shabu Zen
              78 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134

              1. Health Works Cafes in Allston or Back Bay is my favorite for a lunch or early supper. Everything is made from scratch using the finest ingredients and they really keep the calories and fat down. The club is women only but men are welcome in the cafes.

                1. My best tip for being a person who loves food and getting to/maintaining a healthy weight - eat very sensibly at breakfast and lunch (definitely limit carbs) and generally eat what you want at dinner in reasonable portions. This isn't the best plan if you want to quickly lose a lot of weight, but I find that it is a healthy lifestyle that still allows you to try new things and doesn't deprive you of so much that it leads to binges. Also, pay attention to drinks-soda, juice, and alcohol are easy ways to cut calories.

                  1. fat with food is what sates you and makes you feel full. cutting calories and fat (unless you are eating gargantuan amounts of food) will just keep you hungry and feeling deprived. i've gone low-carb and lost 15 pounds in 2 months. i am never hungry and enjoy things like cheese and bacon with no guilt.

                    if you're determined to eat like an ascetic, pretty much anyplace will do steamed veg and plain grilled fish. sashimi and oysters are good options too.

                    1. I've lost about 40 pounds recently doing Weight Watchers, and have found it fairly easy to find things that have fit into my plan. I travel a lot for work, and so restaurant meals make up a pretty big share of my food intake.

                      Overall, I've found the best strategy is to look for dishes that have lots of what you *can* eat, rather than focusing on excluding things you can't. Look for things that include lots of vegetables, simply prepared meats (don't limit yourself to chicken -- seafood, beef, and many cuts of pork are all good choices if carefully chosen), broth, etc. Order soup; it's almost always a good choice and will fill you up before the main course. Order baked potatoes, since you can control what goes on them. Etc.

                      I've found good choices in some unusual places. Indian buffets have been fairly easy -- you can fill up on soup and rice and tandoori chicken, and take just a few bites of the richer stuff to get a taste for it. Chinese is a good option if you're careful -- lunch today is a little bit of stir-fried chicken, a lot more vegetables, soup, and brown rice. Pho is a godsend, as are fresh rolls. Careful with those salads -- you can undo anything good about a salad with croutons and dressing and other toppings. And whatever you eat, track it. If you don't know what you're eating, you can't really make informed decisions.

                      Above all, though -- don't deprive yourself. Eat the stuff you love, but in moderation. I couldn't have gotten this far if they told me I couldn't have bacon :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dtremit

                        Some great advice here.

                        I would like to echo the comment about tracking what you eat. This has been very helpful and educational for me. I have an iPhone app called Lose It, that is a calorie counter. After using it for a week or so I learned a lot about the food I had been eating all these years and which ones I should cut back on (mostly beer, d'oh!).

                        Also, while you are doing this, it might be benefitial to find out if you have other medical concerns that can be improved by diet. Personally, I have trouble with cholesterol, so I combined my desire to reduce bad holesterol with my desire to improve my protein:carbohydrate ratio. It's proved an interesting challenge and I've discovered some new favorite food/dishes as a result.

                        As for restaurants, one thing that is a small compromise is getting a burrito bowl instead of a burrito. You drop about ~150 calories worth of tortilla (carbs) and don't sacrifice much in the way of flavor or nutrients.

                      2. I, too, am on kick to lower wt - so far 15lbs off & counting. Things like cerviche at Rincon Limeno fit the bill & make oh so happy.

                        1. I've found in some cases spending more does the trick (btw, Shabu Zen is a great idea.. you eat slowly, which helps). Another restaurant choice is that Peruvian place in Eastie - Ricon Limeno or something - get the ceviche. Fish in lemon juice is pretty light.

                          Now, if you love rich food, you are kind of screwed.... rich is bad. And the first piece of advice - DON"T EAT OUT VERY OFTEN. Like it or not, in those kitchens, they ARE using a lot of butter. Read Anthony Bourdain - kitchens use butter like doctors use rubber gloves.

                          When I've tried to diet and eat out, I had these things in mind.

                          1) Small snack before I went so I didn't order hungry
                          2) Ask them NOT to bring bread if they normally do
                          3) Avoid apps unless you are splitting them among 3 or more people
                          4) If you are going to drink, drink 1 thing - straight whiskey (well, that's more my joking call, but drinking can add a lot of calories to a meal)
                          5) Spend a bit more to get less calories - oysters with mignonette or ponzu are low-cal, so is sashimi, and when it comes to beef, filet mignon (petit cut, please) is a better choice than a ribeye (unless the filet is wrapped in bacon or sauced up). Heck a lobster roll (ask for no mayo) from Belle Isle Seafood is a nice way to go.

                          Belle Isle Seafood
                          1267 Saratoga St, Boston, MA 02128

                          Shabu Zen
                          16 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                          397 Hancock St, Quincy, MA