6 Tips to Balance Eating Great Food (including deep-fried grilled cheese sandwiches) and Staying Fit

Mary Jane Detroyer


Being surrounded by the richest, most decadent foods like cornbread with honey butter and enmoladas or the flakiest, buttery-est pastries, how can anyone, much less a top chef, stave off temptation and stay fit?

This Thrillist article shares an interview with some of New York City’s top chefs – all of whom are passionate about food, all of whom are incredibly fit. There are some common practices that keep these chefs healthy and fit, and none of them have to do with not eating the good stuff.

How is that possible?

There’s a pervading myth that weight loss and maintenance mean starvation, tasteless food, and grueling hours at the gym. Many of my clients have tried everything from fad diets to hypnosis. These New York City chefs share the same ideas of many registered dietitians and personal trainers, including my own. Though there are a couple of extremists in the bunch, most of them focus on health and eating well. Here are 6 tips to balance eating great food and staying fit –  the common denominators of the top chefs of NYC.

  • Mary Jane DetroyerStay fit: Being a professional chef is a physical job. Standing for 12 – 14 hours/day requires lots of core strength, great posture, and a high level of fitness. This doesn’t come from nowhere. Finding time to schedule workouts is priority to every single chef on this list. This is a critical piece of the puzzle of maintaining a healthy weight and managing stressful jobs. They have a movement mindset and belief that exercise is just as important as eating well. Bottom line: we have to make time for exercise. It’s that important.
  • Don’t skip meals: There you have it. Skipping meals is not the way to lose or maintain weight. Our bodies are machines, like any other, and when they aren’t getting the fuel they needs, they adapt. Metabolism isn’t static. When we skip meals, our bodies’ metabolism slows down. Moreover, the likelihood of overeating the next meal because we’re ravenous is much higher.
  • Mary Jane DetroyerEat clean: Indulge in the best quality foods and products. So many of us focus on fat content, when we really should be looking into where our foods are coming from and eating the best quality, in-season foods. This insures variety, which, in turn, gives our bodies the opportunity to get all the nutrients they need. Eating great quality foods doesn’t mean we have to go broke. By making a few changes to the way we shop, we can still eat well and stay on a budget.
  • Steer clear of simple sugars: Sugar is the primary cause of chronic disease, cancer, and obesity. Period.  New dietary guidelines severely reduce the recommended consumption of simple sugars in our diets. So step back from the sugar jar and find healthier alternatives to curb the sweet-tooth.
  • Stay hydrated! Most of our chefs interviewed drink water – loads of it – or herbal teas. Staying hydrated is a great way to jump-start our metabolisms and keep our bodies functioning in top condition. That said, none of the chefs drink sodas. A soda is nothing more than a high-sugar, high-processed toxin.
  • Moderation is everything: Many of us were raised with the “clean your plate” mentality. And though wasting food isn’t good, it’s also not good to eat what we don’t absolutely love. Keep portion size under control. Serve smaller portions and repeat on fruits and vegetables if needed. Indulge in your favorites – a chocolate brownie or a deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich. Why not? But keep everything in moderation.

Mary Jane DetroyerStaying fit like the top chefs doesn’t require no pain-no gain or lettuce/arugula diets. Life is meant to be lived and tasted! Moreover, carving out time to exercise so we have more energy and stamina is a critical piece of the puzzle. These 6 tips to balancing the amazing flavors of life with health are ones most top chefs and registered dietitians and personal trainers would approve of.

So, what are you waiting for? Time to indulge in life and get healthy.