Keeping Fit in the Food World
I love my job. Every day I’m surrounded by great people, great food and constantly travelling between my restaurants, creating new menus and testing dishes.
For some, this would be a dream job, and it is! But being surrounded by food all day every day makes it almost impossible to keep fit and eat healthy if you want to shed a few kilos.
Just the other day I had to taste 10 breads… 6 at glass and 4 at MOJO. I absolutely love bread, there’s nothing better than a toasted slice of sourdough with a good slathering of butter. But when you’re trying to keep it lean, taste testing food all day makes it bloody hard!
If you’d have asked me a few years ago, I wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with the way I was eating. In between testing dishes, I’d also squeeze in main meals and choose rich foods like a big steak with mash potato or fries. If I had dinner out, I’d order entrée, main and dessert and finish everything on my plate.
But then something clicked in me one day and I realised if I didn’t change my eating habits, my waistline was only going to continue expanding until it’s too late. So, the excuses went out the window and I began exercising and being careful about what I ate.
It was hard in the beginning, like it always is, but I got used to eating smaller portions, simpler and cleaner foods.
I used to do the big breakfast… toast with butter as well as sweetened yoghurt with fruit, honey and granola which was full of sugar!
Now, I’ll either have eggs with spinach and tomatoes or a small bowl of oats with some shredded coconut, which keeps me feeling full for longer.
I actually have a great one-minute egg recipe which cooks in the microwave. The egg has to be fresh, I always use organic. Put a bit of just-boiling water in a bowl and a splash of vinegar, swirl it around, crack the egg in, then cook it in the microwave for a minute or two. Easy as that!
If I don’t have tastings, I might have a little snack around 11am or 12pm, then a sandwich or something simple for lunch like sashimi or steamed fish with vegetables.
For dinner it’s usually fish with ginger, soy and olive oil or a grilled steak. I used to go to a restaurant and eat a 200g+ steak but now it’s a 100g piece of meat and I’m done.
I’ve got a herb garden growing at home and I love bringing a piece of plain meat or fish to life with fresh herbs and spices. After a big day, it’s so easy and quick to pull together and add a whole lot of flavour.
Cutting back on portion size shrinks your stomach over time, making it easier for you to stick to your new routine and eventually it becomes the norm. You’ll find yourself looking back on the food you used to eat and wondering how you ate all that.
For me, it’s all been about portion control. I still eat frequently throughout the day but I make sure my portions are about the size of my fist and I feel this has been key to me losing 10 kilograms in 12 months.
Seeing how far I’ve come encourages me to continue to eat well, as does setting the goal of making sure I move each day.
Whether it’s a bike ride, run or dip in the ocean in the morning, I love starting the day with some exercise. It sets me up for a healthy day ahead.
If I’ve had a couple of chardies the night before, I leave the car in the city and that motivates me to walk back in the next morning. It takes me about an hour and 15 minutes and ensures that I get up and moving the next day.
That being said, I don’t cut out any foods. I let myself eat and enjoy what I want but it comes down to moderation and control.
Almost every day I’m tempted with lots of delicious food, and especially having a sweet tooth, it’s hard to resist to leave a dessert unfinished.
I have a serious weakness for ice cream and chocolate. I also can’t pass up a glass of chardy and love cheese. I let myself have these things in small quantities but just make sure the next day I make up for it.
Remember the old saying that you should never trust a skinny chef? Well apparently, the opposite is true these days… Michel Roux Jr. once said we should “Never trust a fat chef because he's probably sitting in his office with a bottle of wine and a plate of potatoes, rather than bouncing around the kitchen.
While I don’t entirely agree with that, I do think every chef loves food, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the industry, and that chefing is an energetic job and if you’re testing food all day, it’s important to balance it out and be in good physical shape.