A popular New Year’s resolution is eating healthier and/or having less fat in the foods we eat every day. Every January we will notice an onslaught of extra people at the gym or on local outdoor running tracks. It seems we all want to be healthy, and sometimes all it takes is some small changes and that are applied gradually to our daily eating habits. Here are a few helpful tips to get you motivated.
Choose what you put in your mouth. I know this may sound odd at first, but no one is force-feeding deep-fried, fatty foods into your mouth – you are doing that yourself. Frequently all it takes is a conscious effort to make a healthier choice.
Train yourself to keep this thought in the forefront of your mind. Little notes to yourself posted in different areas are great motivators.
Try different low-fat cooking methods such as grilling, poaching, and non-stick sautéing. Poaching in a savory broth is a great way to not only infuse flavour but also keep your chicken or fish extremely moist. I find that poaching is very misunderstood. It is not the same as “boiling”. One of the last things I would want to eat is boiled chicken, for example. The culinary definition of poaching is to cook gently in water or other liquid that is hot but not actually bubbling, about 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wine poached salmon with a dollop of seasoned no-fat sour cream is amazingly delicious.
Most often it is what we add to our food that is fattening rather than the food itself. Try topping your main course with a no-fat salsa. This can be made traditionally with tomatoes or try the contrasting flavour appeal of a fruit salsa on your steak, chicken, or seafood. If this sounds like too much preparation, there are pre-made jarred varieties available. If salsas don’t entice your appetite, then try making different sauces from no-fat yogurt or sour cream. Many recipes are available at the local library or on the internet.
An easy way to reduce your daily intake of fat is by making small changes to the items you consume regularly. Milk is a great example. For argument’s sake, let’s assume you want to make the switch from homogenized to skim milk, but the change is too drastic. Make the transition by taking small gradual steps to achieve this goal.
For the first month make the switch from homogenized to 2% milk until you get used to it. On the second month switch from 2% to 1%, and then 1% to skim. Within three months you will have succeeded without making a huge adjustment. This same example can be applied to almost any no-fat option products that are available to us, like sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, etc.
Most importantly, when preparing a meal, make sure you garnish. This is extremely important for enjoying and experiencing food to the fullest. Eating is not just about taste, texture, and aroma – it is also about appearance. I always preach to my culinary students “the eyes eat first”. If something looks great, you are sending signals to your brain advising that it’s going to taste great. The same happens in reverse. If someone serves you a bowl of blue coloured mush, it doesn’t matter how good it might taste, you have already convinced yourself that it will taste terrible.
Dear Chef Dez:
My New Year’s resolution, as it has been for many years, is to lose weight. I find this very hard to do because I love food, and was wondering if you could offer some suggestions?
I myself have battled between the balance of food enticement and weight stability. It seemed I had tried every diet/weight program available and nothing worked for any length of time. I finally just started making my own conscious efforts on a daily basis to make healthier choices towards food and exercise. I made food with intense flavour and low fat to conquer my cravings. Doing this, along with an exercise program, I lost 50 pounds in six months 20 years ago. My biggest revelation was to not look at the final goal I was trying to achieve. Instead I focus on each day as it comes, and only on that day. Eventually, all those days of healthy choices add up. If you quit trying, your chances of success are guaranteed to be zero – you have a chance as long as you try. Don’t give up!
Chef Dez is a Chef, Writer, & Host. Visit him at www.chefdez.com