Healthy Perspective by Chef Theo Petron


Trusting the Skinny Chef

"Never Trust a Skinny Chef!"  I wish I had a dollar for every time I've been told that since changing my career from advertising to culinary entrepreneur almost 15 years ago. The truth is, and most won't want to hear this...some of you may even flat-out stop reading, but I pretty much looked like I do today since I was 18 years old. Because of this I have not had the issues that so many people have regarding weight control and general health. I can't recall a time in my life when I had to monitor or restrict anything that I ate or drank. Many will be envious of this, but it has its potential pitfalls.

Throughout my adult life I have generally followed the age-old philosophy of, 'Moderation in All Things & Be Active'. I pretty much eat what ever I want, but usually not in massive quantities. If I do happen to overindulge, like on DOTS, Rum or Buffalo Wings, my body lets me know the next day and based on this, I am quite reluctant to do so again anytime soon! I believe this to be the body's internal conscience. The key to my healthy lifestyle is honestly listening to this inner voice and reacting in a positive manner.

Being a chef and living with another chef one would think that our refrigerator is filled with a plethora of fresh, healthy food and that we eat like kings and queens all the time. The reality is that we do eat well most of the time, but dine out quite frequently (kinda required) and more times than not are way too exhausted to cook or are totally spent creatively to play 'what's in the fridge'. Last year we started treating our own house like another client and made sure that we were eating as well as our clients!

For the longest time I religiously followed my mantra of, "Eat Well or Don't Eat at All" and I didn't eat as often as I should have. Thus I didn't have the gas in the tank to get through my demanding day/nights as a chef. I would bonk, and then it would take a good hour or more to recover. I literally have to force myself to eat. I know this will shock many of you, but my life is food. I read about it, plan menus, shop, prep, cook, taste, package, serve, taste, clean-up. I touch food at so many points in my day-to-day life that most of the time it's the last thing I want to think about or do when I'm finally finished work for the day.

Solution. Feedings. I try to eat small bites several times throughout the day to sustain my energy. Dinner at home is usually my largest meal.

My most difficult meal is breakfast. I like coffee and maybe some toast, that's it. I just don't feel like eating in the morning, but I know I have to. I was doing pretty well for awhile doing hot cereal like muesli or 8-grain hot cereal from Bob's Red Mill, but that got old quite fast. Then I started doing an apple, banana and a yogurt every day. Good, but same result. I recently purchased a massive 3hp blender that I swear could propel a small boat, and have started making a protein drink in the morning. I also grab a breakfast bar or banana for the drive to work or the market. If I feel a hunger pang coming on later in the morning, I'll do a quick PB&J, the protein-carb blend really gets me through. Next I'll try to incorporate some greens or more veg, maybe a little chicken if it's around. Afternoon snack is usually a couple ounces of cheese, some dried fruit and pistachios and my new fave, jerky.

What about all those calories Chef Theo?

Well, those of you that have been to the cafe may notice that I rarely am stationary. I'm always running for something; out to the shed for beverages, back to the cafe, then to the pantry, oh shoot!, no cucumbers...head to the market fast, back to the cafe. You get the idea. Also, I've an avid cyclist, and in season, cycle an average of 100 miles per week. Each ride I burn between 800-1200 calories and thus need some serious intake to fuel this level of activity.

So, here is my recipe for a healthy lifestyle in a nutshell:

• Eat pretty much whatever you want, but not too much of anything.

• Consistent Exercise—really sweat, work hard. 3-4 times per week.

• Listen to your body, if you think you're eating or drinking too much or in poor habit, you probably are!

Portion Control. No human being needs an 8oz. hamburger! Eat half, take the rest home for a family member or for another meal.Educate Yourself. Beware of 'fat-free and low-cal' usually they are LOADED with sugar to make them taste good, and all that sugar is bad. Know good fats vs. bad fats. Olive oil and avocados are good. Processed foods are full of bad fats.When grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter, that's where the real stuff resides.

So, trust me...even if I'm a skinny chef!

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