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Keeping up body weight in the kitchen


gfron1
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There are plenty of topics in eG about taking weight off, but I've got a real problem here. I turned 40 this past year and expected my weight to rise a bit. But then I stepped into a full-time cooking role. With it has come the long days, constantly on my feet and financial stress. Those factors were all magnified from the start of the holidays through last week when the last of my string of special events ended. I finally have a breather until around May.

Then last night my spouse, with a strong look of concern, said that he thought I had been losing weight. Sure enough, when I weighed myself, I had lost a bit. So here's my weight timeline - 135 until I was around 20 because I ran marathons and ultras since I was a wee baby boy (not quite that early), then fraternity beer started pouring and I slowly, very slowly worked my way up to around 165 still running, skiing and climbing. After I moved out of Colorado my activity dipped and my weight climbed to 175 where it has stood for over a decade unchanged through holidays, work spurts, etc. But now I've dipped, and at 6'3" that's not healthy looking.

In the kitchen I know I don't eat enough, but I'm constantly snacking, tasting, and have a morning dessert (or two or three). My guess is that because of all of the tasting I don't feel hungry and therefore don't eat as much as I used to. I need to eat more, but also eat smarter in a busy kitchen. I don't want to live on the fattier foods that I serve, nor the desserts (well, I do want to live on the desserts, but know I shouldn't).

What do those of you working in restaurants do to keep yourselves fed?

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Make the time. That's it. Yes, we get busy in the kitchen and there just never seems to be enough time to get it all done, but you need to make sure you eat and drink plenty of water. You'll be much more efficient in the kitchen if you're fed and hydrated. So just make it a priority. Put it on your prep list. Set an alarm/timer. Plan your work so you have 5-10 minutes to eat something.

If you can't throw something together quick from the staff meal bin, then nip a little something off the hot line's mis (not some expensive protein, of course). A couple scrambled eggs, a piece of fruit, and some toast makes a decent meal. Or bring something from home. Or stop on the way and pick something up at a deli.

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I know what you mean about snacking and tasting in the kitchen. Being around all those great smells kind of trick you into feeling not hungry when dinner time rolls around.

Since most of our stuff is candy or chocolate related I try to have nice cheeses and crackers, fresh fruit and vegetables around to snack. I usually bring extra along and everyone in the kitchen will snack on it. Keeps us out of trouble and keeps our energy up!

My friend who is a chef always has unsalted mixed nuts and assorted dried fruits on supply for lots of energy on those busy days!

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What do those of you working in restaurants do to keep yourselves fed?

I just force myself to eat. Even when you don't feel like it, just take some time and eat. Obviously working in a restaurant I know I don't want to cook something fancy for myself, so I just cook something incredibly basic, and just eat it.

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After today I'm realizing that awareness is a huge part of the battle. I've eaten like a work horse today. Nibor asked how much I weigh now - I'm at 168lbs, so only 7 pounds less than normal. Seven pounds isn't much except when your weight has been so consistent for so long (which by the way is why I'm taking the comments about a check up serious).

Today I was aware, so I had a bowl of oatmeal with piñon for breakfast, a Fage with honey, and a baklava (that's a habit I need to break). After lunch I made myself go outside and put off cleanup and prep and had a monster gyro (with lots of veggies for good measure). And I just polished off a failed cake (ditto to that habit thing). I'm still voraciously hungry today which is funny considering I started this topic about not eating.

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when i worked in a kitchen, and even now when cooking "recreationally", i have had a hard time eating properly. for me, if this makes sense, it was because handling and smelling the food, even if i don't taste, my brain registers that full feeling. when i was working in a kitchen i actually drank more - iced tea, milk, beers at the end of the night- than i ate and lost weight.

now, if i know i have a catering job or even a full day off when i'm going to cook several things, i will make myself eat at least by lunch time(i ususally cook during the afternoon) either at home or stop by a local place for something like a grilled chicken salad or some good soup.

the other thing we have learned this year with johnnybird is that if he drinks meal replacement drinks(boost, ensure) or gatorade he doesn't feel like eating.

good luck in undoing this riddle

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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For me, the end of service before cleanup is when I like to eat. My favorite thing to do is grab a big bowl of rice and pour some pureed soup over it. Its filling, and generally speaking those kinds of soups are healthier. Another possibility is to go to chinatown to pick up frozen dumplings--then when you get home you can just put some water on to boil, toss them in, and enjoy. (or nuke them if you're really lazy :biggrin: ) Either way is a pretty easy way to get some real food in you, but like other people said, I think making time is key. Also, make sure you are getting enough water--I don't know a ton about this, but I imagine that if you are dehydrated you might not be processing what you are eating well enough and it could be related to the weight loss. More water never hurts!

“Ruling a great state is like cooking a small fish.”

Those who favor leniency say [it means] “do not disturb it too much”; those who favor strictness say “give it salt and vinegar, that’s it.”

~Huainanzi, ch. 11

http://ladolcejenny.blogspot.com

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It sounds like you've been exercising more and eating less since you started cooking full time. That's a perfect formula for weight loss. If anything, you might want to eat even more now than you did before you started working, since you are burning a lot more calories and your metabolism is higher.

I used to eat one meal a day until my doctor told me to eat three smaller meals a day to help manage my sugar. I had to walk around with a little timer to remind myself when to eat. Old habits die hard. Just keep remembering to eat, and if you continue to lose weight give your doctor a visit.

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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my weight climbed to 175 where it has stood for over a decade unchanged through holidays, work spurts, etc.  But now I've dipped, and at 6'3" that's not healthy looking.

Huh? I'm 6'5", weigh no more than 180, and I think I could stand to lose a little more fat. I don't even have well-defined abs, which are a sure sign of a very low body fat percentage. Perhaps people are getting so accustomed to 3/4 of the population being fat, that being thin is now considered "unhealthy looking".

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Please don't confuse my comments as a body image issue, or even a reflection of my society's perception of me. I think for those of us who have maintained a relatively stable body weight and composition, any change is noticeable and, at least in my case, has an impact on energy/fatigue and other factors. I don't care if I have a bit of a gut (I don't), or if I was thinner (I have been). What I care about is that I'm fueling my body appropriately for this new task in my life. That said, I couldn't agree with your statement more in general.

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You can have some of mine. I tell ya, hanging out in the office all day surfing the net and huddling under blankets at home all winter trying to stay warm - meanwhile munching on cookies and Toblerone bars - is a really good way to cultivate the belly fat. The Japanese are going to be hunting me for my toro any day now.

But seriously, a high performance machine needs high performance fuel. If I'm busy (not so much these days), I don't want to take the time to stop and eat, but it is true that you'll be better off for the rest of the day if you take 15 minutes to have a burrito than if you take 2 minutes to grab a piece of fruit or a pastry. It sounds like you have plenty more food available than those perfect, non-selling croissants, so you really have no excuse. I don't see anything wrong with two or three pastries a day, but you do need a few other things to round it out.

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...Seven pounds isn't much except when your weight has been so consistent for so long (which by the way is why I'm taking the comments about a check up serious)....

Though you seem to have an explanation for it, unexplained weight loss is a serious reason to see your doctor. At least the visit to your doctor for a checkup could confirm that there's no medical reason for it and that you are, indeed, just burning more calories than you are consuming.

I would also suggest making sure the calories you do consume count since you seem to be ingesting less of them.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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yeah - after about a week of thinking about this the two keys for me seem to be 1) awareness of what I'm doing and 2) making the calories count. I've long wanted a recipe for a high powered energy bar that wasn't sugar loaded, but was tasty - you know, something I can crank out a 9x13 of and eat it all week. The burrito mentioned above is also a great option for me. I just take all my scraps from lunch service, wrap them up and scarf.

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Wow Ron, I am 6'0" and weigh 210lbs and I feel like I am at a pretty good weight, though I do try to build muscle 168 at 6'3" sounds kind of scary to me. It sounds like you really need to sit down and eat once in a while and allow your food to digest.

You don't have celiac disease do you?

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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No celiac disease here fortunately. And while the old ecto/endo/meso classification system is no longer used, I definitely fit into the tall thin guy category - always have, and based on my family, always will. I do completely agree that I need to carve out time dedicated to eating, and I've been doing that since I started this topic. The next focus has to be smartening up what I'm eating to make the calories work for me.

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yeah - after about a week of thinking about this the two keys for me seem to be 1) awareness of what I'm doing and 2) making the calories count.  I've long wanted a recipe for a high powered energy bar that wasn't sugar loaded, but was tasty - you know, something I can crank out a 9x13 of and eat it all week.  The burrito mentioned above is also a great option for me.  I just take all my scraps from lunch service, wrap them up and scarf.

Not sure how you want to define sugar loaded and haven't made these, but thought of you when I saw them: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/cranber...lnut-power-bars

Also, I have made these and while they sound rice krispy treat like, they have lots of other stuff in them that makes them much less sweet.

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I've been meaning to make the Friendship Bars (on David Lebovitz's website, recipe adapted from Alice Medrich) forever and a day. It's mostly fruit and nuts with a little bit of brown sugar and flour, and an egg. If you cut the recipe (8" pan) into 16 bars, each bar is about 190 calories, with 9.43 grams total fat (only 0.88grams of which are saturated), 26.27 grams of carbohydrates (including 13grams of sugars and 2 grams of fiber), and 2.5 grams of protein. Seems like a lot of sugar, but it's mostly from the fruit, so it's not quite as egregious as white sugar. You could probably cut back on the brown sugar or use agave or some other sweetener, and also sub in other fruits for the dates and apricots.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2007...hip_bars_1.html

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Unless you don't feel well, maybe you are just a skinny person. Like me. I'm 6'1", 170ish(+-5#), cook all day, run 2 mi. daily, exercise, eat when I feel hungry, 90% healthy stuff, drink alot of beer, etc, and am mid 40's. I'm just incapable of eating regularly, not interested. A day might be coffee for breakfast, fruit in late morning, sandwich or salad mid afternoon, a snack somewhere in there. One thing I do maintain is intake of water, and teas. I also find sleep is a factor on my appetite.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm working my way through those recipes starting with Marmish's - good stuff. I made some modifications to suit my tastes.

The only other update is that I also now have 2 or 3 yogurts every morning which has been good, and I'm walking away from the kitchen to eat my lunch.

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