Food is their passion. Their job demands having to whip up appetising dishes every day. Surrounded by all kinds of temptations, 24x7, how do they stay in shape? We invite a few chefs to share their health and diet secrets
Staying healthy on the job: My mantra is to eat often and opt for 'tasting portions'. Exercise, rest and diet are key in balance to keep us fit .
Daily diet: My diet decreases as the day progresses, making my breakfast heavier. Dinners are usually a salad. I include a lot of high-fibre food like fresh veggies and fruits. I also avoid eating late at night, curbing those midnight cravings. I have not had a canned juice or an aerated beverage in the last eight years.
My weakness: A well-made risotto loaded with parmesan. I have to have it once a week.
Binge control: I dive into the food I love but just take a spoonful of it to taste and I am done.
The cheat sheet
>> Reduce oil by 75% from all your dressings, and use less dressing in salads.
>> Eat enough apples and cucumbers when you're craving something.
>> Remove all the cans from your kitchen and use fresh produce.
>> Add toasted flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal as a routine.
Staying healthy on the job: My job is to cook and eat for a living. Doing this the healthy way is tough, especially when at least seven to eight meals are eaten outside home. I control my portion sizes and totally avoid munching on fried delicacies (restrict it only to tastings). Also, I do tend to order a lot of salads and protein-rich food while dining out.
Daily diet: On an average day, my breakfast includes four egg whites with two slices of bread. For lunch, I have two chapattis, a big bowl of dal, a bowl of vegetables or chicken/fish and two spoons of any dessert. I avoid rice. In the evening, I have four boiled eggs. For dinner, I have two big bowls of palak paneer or boiled veggies in pesto sauce. I ensure that I have immunity boosters like soaked almonds, walnuts, barley water and green tea everyday.
My weakness: I love desserts and my day is incomplete without them. I also dig into two small pieces of dark chocolate or rice kheer every now and then.
Binge control: I take inspiration from The Hulk. Fighting your unhealthy food cravings is as tough as fighting your anger. You have to learn to deal with it in small packets. I eat something sweet everyday, but only a couple of spoons.
The cheat sheet
>> Eat a healthy sweet grain biscuit instead of a dessert.
>> Use nuts puree (instead of cream) to thicken gravies and make curries creamy.
>> Eat a couple of eggs before eating out. This helps you watch your portions while dining out.
>> Add dates puree to milk-based desserts and absolutely no sugar.
>> I bake most food that needs frying. While baking, I brush some oil on top to give it that necessary moisture and taste.
Kainaz Messman Harchandrai of Theobroma restricts herself to only a few bites of the yummy desserts that she serves her patrons. Pic/Shadab Khan
Kainaz Messman Harchandrai
Head of production, Theobroma Foods Pvt Ltd
Staying healthy on the job: Food is an important part of my life. I love creating and consuming in equal measure. As with all aspects of life, there has to be a balance in diet. I would not want to live on leaves and lettuce alone but they form an important part of my daily consumption. No items are taboo but I try to eat more of what is good for me and indulge in smaller quantities. When I am testing, I restrict myself to a bite or few, I do not feel the need to eat the entire sample laid out for me.
Daily diet: I start my day with a fruit, followed by a more substantial breakfast of eggs or yogurt and nuts. An occasional indulgent treat would be a strong espresso with a slice of cake or a breakfast pastry. I have a glass of green vegetable juice before noon followed by a salad or sandwich or vegetable khichdi a little later. I occasionally skip lunch if I have been sampling many products in my kitchen. In the evenings, I look forward to a coffee with my husband when I get home. We love eating at home; we usually eat salad with dal and fish or chicken. Sometimes, we make Thai or Chinese food at home. I have a lime shot after dinner. On weekends, we make burgers or pizza or cook Italian food. I eat fruits every day, and I try to eat salad with every meal.
My weakness: Wine, cheese, bread and chocolate. I would make a meal of it everyday if I could.
Binge control: I restrict cheese to weekends and although I eat chocolate everyday, I don't eat the whole bar.
Owner and chef, Palate Culinary Studio
Staying healthy on the job: My passion for food is the reason I am in this industry, but yes, all chefs don't eat everything they make. My workshops range from Lebanese to sushi, Thai, sizzlers, teppanyaki, kebabs, Mughlai as well as desserts. However, I only end up tasting while cooking as that is really important.
Daily diet: I start my mornings with a glass of warm water with methi (fenugreek) seeds soaked overnight. This is followed by a banana and a cup of tea. Breakfast comprises either oat porridge or oat chilla along with a slice of toast and egg whites. Then, I have a glass of lemon water. My lunch includes bran roti/rajgira (amaranth) roti or rice (the kolam variety) with salad and a vegetable or chicken. In the evenings, I have green tea, with an egg white or a vegetable sandwich. For dinner, I have bottle gourd and drumstick soup with chicken pieces (grilled in an air fryer using minimum oil) or chicken curry and rice with salad. In the night, I have milk or prunes with warm water.
My weakness: Biryani (preferably lamb) or any other rice preparation. I indulge in freshly baked Zaatar bread often.
Binge control: It's difficult, especially after a tough day at work. However, I ensure that most of my preparations include healthier grains like dalia (broken wheat), quinoa, rajgira (amaranth) and bran flour.
The cheat sheet
>> Swap butter with minimum olive oil (extra light is perfect for Indian cooking).
>> Instead of adding cream, use milk or Greek yoghurt, specially in recipes such as Stroganoff.
>> I use an air fryer to saute the onions for any Mughlai gravy with little oil instead of deep frying them.
>> For the white sauce, substitute refined flour with the healthier barley flour.