Staying Slim While Enjoying Your Sushi


Sushi, nowadays, is becoming increasingly available almost everywhere you turn – from Japanese restaurants to supermarkets; grocery stores to local bakeries!  While it can be a perfectly balanced and filling meal, sushi can also be a “diet disaster” if the wrong menu choices are made.  Many assume that choosing sushi for a meal is a guaranteed “healthy option”, but while this may be true sometimes, it’s certainly not always the case!

It’s a question I’m asked often by my clients… can they eat sushi?  What should they order?  How much can they have?…  A sushi meal, like some sashimi and/ or a basic cucumber/avocado roll, can weigh in at a measly 200 to 300 calories or, at the other end of the spectrum, top 1,000 calories – think deep friend tempura rolls!  While unfortunately there’s no simple answer and it’s difficult to give a set quantity; what you order and how much of it – is what makes the difference, as is the context in which it is being eaten (e.g. a starter vs. your main meal!).


Health-wise, there is quite a bit to know when making your sushi choices, so before you get stuck in and order, have a read of my simple tips for eating sushi and staying slim!


1. Power-up with protein and healthy fats

When choosing sushi as your main meal, make sure to incorporate a decent amount of protein.  While a cucumber roll might seem like the “diet friendly” option, and indeed will be lower in calories than fish, you need protein to provide satiety and sustenance to your meal.  Salmon and tuna are among the leanest, highest quality proteins you can eat, and both are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.  If you eat sushi daily or on a very regular basis try not to overdo it on the amount of fish you consume by including vegetarian rolls to help reduce your intake of mercury.  Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should limit their fish and seafood intake to around 360g per week (180g twice a week), and avoid raw fish altogether by sticking to cooked forms only!  You can balance out your meal with a vegetarian roll made with cucumber, asparagus or avocado, instead of fish.  Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy, skin glowing, monounsaturated fats, however they are also higher in calories than other vegetables, so don’t go overboard with them if you’re watching your weight!



If fish is not your thing or you’re vegetarian/ vegan, you can opt for tofu or a side dish of edamame as other excellent alternative sources of protein.

2. Go light on the rice

tuna with tomato jam

Lightly cooked tuna with tomato “jam”… delicious!

The basic rolls, such as plain fish, avocado and cucumber are all good choices, but they do come with the downside of white rice, which is high in calories and low in nutritional value.  Because it’s white rice, as opposed to brown, it contains practically no fibre or protein, meaning all the calories quickly add up, and turn straight to simple sugars and fat!  That doesn’t mean however, that it can’t be incorporated into a healthy diet in the right way.

My first piece of advice would be to try to get brown rice sushi wherever possible – which is starting to appear more in shops and restaurants around London.  This will provide your body with added fibre, protein and various other nutrients, such as B vitamins, meaning a smaller serving of sushi will keep you satiated sooner – and for longer – as well as providing your body with added healthy nutrition!

If brown rice is not possible, order sashimi – at least as the bulk of your meal – and perhaps have one vegetable roll made with rice on the side.  Ordering sashimi will save you a lot in refined carbs and calories, and as mentioned, packs in a hefty dose of high-quality protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids.


Salmon sashimi with a side dish of veggies and (unpictured) avocado roll with rice – makes a perfectly balanced meal!


3. Don’t be tempted by tempura

Stay away from anything on the menu labelled as “crunchy” or “tempura” as this means the rolls or fish inside are coated in batter or breadcrumbs, and deep fried.  Avoid the saturated fat and extra calories from frying, by avoiding these dishes altogether!

Perfectly healthy sushi platter... no "deep fried" or tempura rolls!

Perfectly healthy sushi platter… no “deep fried” or tempura rolls!

Purple sushi… made with “black rice” – high in Vitamins E & D (& was delicious too!) :-)

Purple sushi… made with “black rice” – high in Vitamins E & D (& was delicious too!) 🙂

4. Know your portions


Photo: – Xenia Tchoumitcheva does ordering sushi right! Perfectly healthy meal and choices.

While traditional sushi is a healthy food it’s still important to stick to proper portions if your aim is to eat light and stay slim!  An average sushi roll (~6 pieces with fish) contains around 250 calories so if you order three rolls, which don’t get me wrong, is not difficult to get through, that’s a lot of calories – before even taking any added sauces or side dishes into account.  As a guide, a sensible sushi meal would consist of a portion of (~6) sashimi pieces and one to two basic rolls – such as salmon, avocado, cucumber or corn, OR two rolls (12 pieces) of a bulkier variety.

A good, balanced meal option in Paris.

A good, balanced meal option in Paris.


5. Be mindful

Make sure you don't go feeling like this before hitting a sushi buffet like the ones shown below...

Make sure you don’t go feeling like this before hitting a sushi buffet like the ones shown below…

In the same vein, because sushi is cut into those little pieces that pop perfectly into your mouth, it makes every extra bite seem so harmless!  It’s definitely a moreish kind of food that’s very easy to “lose track” of!  This is especially true if you’re sharing rolls with family or friends or eating it standing at an engagement or wedding reception, as opposed to ordering a take-out or meal in a restaurant.  My advice would be to put all the sushi you plan to eat on your plate BEFORE you tuck in as this will prevent you getting “carried away”.  Also, make use of those chopsticks – they’ll force you to eat more slowly!


Photo: White Fish London


Photo: White Fish London


Photo: White Fish London


Epic wedding reception sushi buffet


So now you know my five sushi commandments you can go-ahead and enjoy it guilt-free The Food Effect way.  Rest assured, it will NOT cause you to pile on the pounds.  Enjoy! 🙂


A good sushi platter always goes down well for some casual home entertaining! (Yes, there may be the odd sneaky cupcake dotted around… life’s all about balance!) 😉


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