Chef’s Secrets to Healthy Eating
Utilise the Best Ingredients Possible
If you prepare meals with the best possible ingredients, you are more likely to enjoy your food and feel sated when you’re finished. As a chef, I always encourage people touse best ingredients they can find and afford. Good quality ingredients can be expensive but think about it, you’re putting these things into your body. The food you eat is literally fuel for the one and only body we are given. Why fill it up with junk?
humans are omnivores, meaning we are designed to eat a variety of plants and animals. While there are children who perhaps like just a few foods, most adults respond well to a wide variety of meal choices. Not only does a varied diet provide the best nutritional profile, it can help keep us from feeling deprived or bored which can lead us veering from our intended healthy eating plan.
Spices & Seasonings
Most chefs understand that you can add flavor to food using a variety of spices, herbs and seasonings. Sure chefs have an affinity for butter, cream and cheese, but most herbs and spices add flavor without the added fat that can put you over your calorie goals so quickly. So on your next omelette, try some finely chopped herbs instead of that chunk of cheddar cheese. Or perhaps finish your roasted asparagus with a dash of smoked sea salt rather than hollandaise. Spices and seasonings can elevate the core healthful foods like lean proteins fruits and vegetables to something infinitely more satisfying making sticking to a healthy eating plan easier to do.
Indulge Your Cravings
Any healthy food plan that doesn’t leave room for your built-in cravings is destined to fail. So don’t skip dessert or your crunchy salty snack or you risk sabotaging your long-term success. What you must do is retrain your thoughts regarding indulging. Indulging does not mean you are required to finish an entire flourless chocolate cake or empty that big of crisps. It also does not mean that you must have dessert every day or that your 20 minute. workout at the gym opens the door for an entire day of excess. Indulging your cravings can be done in a way that does not completely derail your weight loss goals. If you want desert, have a small slice of the flourless chocolate cake. My thoughts on this are, if you are going to indulge your craving, don’t make it on some overly sweetened hydrogenated store-bought packaged cupcake. Rather, find yourself a high-end bakery and by the most beautiful delicious cupcake, the key word here being cupcake and not cupcakes. I find it particularly helpful to remind myself when eating something I could very easily overeat that this is not the last time I’m going to be able to eat this. I don’t have to buy a dozen cupcakes today because if tomorrow, for instance, I decided I would like one, I can by another.
Taste Everything, Eat Nothing
It can be difficult as a chef to maintain a healthy weight because we literally eat all the time. A good chef will taste everything that leaves their kitchen and that tasting can add up to a lot of calories very quickly. For those of us trying to maintain a 1200 calorie diet or healthy eating guidelines, this can spell disaster. So among chefs that maintain a healthy weight the maxim is to taste everything and eat nothing. For most of us the first few bites of something are where we experience the most pleasure, after that we are pretty much just eating. It’s that first bite of chocolate cake that makes your toes curl. So if you intend to follow a weight loss plan or healthy eating guidelines, stick to that first bite or two, especially when it comes to high calorie indulgences like desserts, calorie rich snacks and cheese.
Slow Down, Engage Your Senses & Make the Meal Special
One of the things that can make dining out so lovely is the whole production you get at a quality restaurant. Your food is so often presented artfully, How wonderful it is to have nice dishes with special touches that elevate a simple meal to something quite special. So often when we’re in a restaurant we slow down we really taste our food, we talk about it with others, we engage our senses. Try some of these same techniques at home. Plate your food and use attractive dishes–smaller plates by the way can help you were constrain your portion sizes. Rather than flopping food on the plate, arrange your food even using some tricks like finely chopped herbs around the margin of the plate or dole out your sauce sparingly from the squeeze bottle. The more pleasurable your meal, the more likely you are to stick to your healthy eating guidelines.
Listen to Your Body
As a chef, so often there’s food around me constantly and it’s all too easy to reach for a bite of this or a nibble of that out of stress or boredom. So before you put food into your mouth ask yourself, am I actually hungry? A common diet maxim is the acronym H.A.L.T. which stands for hungry angry lonely tired. It is hardwired into our species to over eat and these reasons can often be triggers for mindlessly grabbing food. It’s up to you to listen to your body to distinguish when you’re actually hungry or if there’s an other unmet need that you can satisfy without food.
Any Dish Can Be Made Healthier
You don’t have to give up all of your favorites when trying to follow a healthy eating plan. If you crave a good burger, opt for leaner meat and skip the bun. If you have a serious french fry addiction, try oven baked sweet potato fries for a more healthful alternative. If you have a serious craving for pizza, try a little tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella on the small English muffin. There many ways to take your favorite dishes and transform them into something that won’t get you off track when it comes to healthful eating.
Soups Are Super
As a chef I love soups for a myriad of reasons. For one soups being warm can feel very comforting and even indulgent without an excess of unwanted calories. Likewise, because of their liquid content, even a relatively small portion of soup can be very filling. Soups are also forgiving and flexible allowing you to use veggies that may not be crisp enough for crudité, but lovely simmered in a nice broth or blended. Another thing that makes soups such a wonderful staple in your healthy meal plan is that they’re super convenient. You can make a large batch of soup and use it for several meals throughout the week.
Don’t Dish Out Restaurant Sized Portions
While it is nice to take some ideas from your restaurant dining, the one common practice in a restaurant that you should throw right out the window is portion size. All but a few restaurants serve portions of go way beyond our daily calorie requirements. If you’re trying to stick to a 1200 calorie diet, regular restaurant portions can be 2 or 3 times a single day’s calorie requirements. Again, it can be helpful to serve food on a salad size plate filling up most of your plate with nutrient dense, low-calorie and low-fat vegetables.