If I had a dime for every time I am asked how I stay so thin, I would be rolling in dough. People assume that working in a kitchen equals food bingeing with so much bounty available at any given time. Well, it can be. When I first started, besides having to taste what your or others are making, compounded with experimenting with new recipes and yes, having food around all the time, it was all very tempting. Until I noticed the scale tilting in the wrong direction and I quickly put a stop to what was not necessary.
The longer you work in a kitchen, though, the less you crave food. Try tasting sugar laden things day after day – frankly, when I go home, the last food I crave is a slice of pie (chocolate is an exception). It’s also true that restaurant food, no matter how carefully prepared, will always contain, by and large, more butter and salt than anything you will make at home – that is why it tastes so good. The rules I put in place for myself are second nature now: I don’t taste anything unless I need to and it is always limited to a morsel; working in a restaurant also gives me the advantage of being surrounded by vegetables that someone else cleaned, chopped and prepared so I make a point of piling up the veggies when I stop for a meal; dinner at home literally consists of a bowl of rice cereal with rice or almond milk, a sprinkle of almonds and some raisins for sweetness. And a cup of tea. I will cook semi-extravagant meals twice a week. That’s it. And breakfast is always a smoothie with plenty of fruit, a quarter of an avocado and almond or coconut milk so when I get to work I will reach for coffee but not a lethal pastry. And no sodas – fortunately it’s a taste I never acquired so that comes extra easy.
Above all, because I do like food so much, my golden rule is to make calories count. When I order out or when I get a craving for a doughnut or a pizza, I will look at it and wonder if the calories are worth it. A doughnut from the market is not but one from Frittelli’s in Beverly Hills, or even two, will not stop me. If I am at a restaurant with a reputation for delicious food, I will not stick with the green salad but at Denny’s, I will.
And then there is that bete noire of exercising. I do. A lot. No way around it. To someone who told me the other day that my thinness is genetic, I retorted that I actually work for it. It’s not unpleasant work but a middle aged woman whose estrogen levels are about to take a dramatic drop can’t kid herself into thinking that a flat stomach is carried by genes. I don’t obsess about food – while writing this, I chowed down a giant caramel covered marshmallow and it was damn good – but I try not to lose sight of what I eat as a big picture. It only takes a little bit of discipline – and, frankly, I can’t see myself Mario Batali size!