“Never trust a thin chef” is how the popular saying goes.
But is this true? Some would argue that the thin chef is more trustworthy as they clearly send all the best food out to the customers! Whatever your thoughts are, a battle with body weight is something many chefs have to deal with.
Surrounding yourself with amazing food all day would be a recipe for disaster for many. So how do chefs stay slim, avoiding the temptation to eat everything in sight and stay in shape?
Chefs stay slim through a combination of being on their feet all day long and only picking at food, a chef will rarely sit down to eat a complete meal in a normal working day. There are also some other tricks chefs use to help them stay in shape.
Being Physically Active Keeps Chefs Slim
A typical working day will see a chef spend 10-12 hours on their feet. That is a lot of walking around which burns thousands of calories.
A chef will need to eat a lot to just replace the calories they are burning before worrying about gaining additional weight.
The perks of having a physically demanding job are that you really get to enjoy your food. Anyone who has been to the gym and then relished the food they hungrily scoff afterwards will know the feeling. There is a feeling of “still burning the calories off!”
You can find out more about typical chef working hours on our article, linked here.
Chefs Eat Very Little To Stay Slim
Chefs will not typically sit down in the day to eat a meal. Instead most find themselves picking at various foods or enjoying a snack at their work bench. This grazing throughout the day is considered by many to be a healthy alternative to the three square meals a day that most of us have become accustomed to.
For large parts of the day it can also be very difficult for a chef to eat, namely during lunch and dinner service. The Head chef would not react well if they turned around during a busy dinner service to discover a chef happily munching on a sandwich!
Hot Kitchens Keep Chefs Slim
Kitchens are notoriously hot places to work. This heat not only makes chefs not want to eat large portions, but it also ensures that they are constantly sweating, which helps to keep weight off.
Readers who live, or have taken holidays in warmer climates will know this feeling. When abroad and sat in the sunshine the temptation to eat large heavy meals tends to subside. Instead the focus turns to more healthy snacking options.
The amount a chef sweats in a day is also helpful for keeping weight off. Not a very nice thought; but important point non the less!
Chefs Don’t Like Rich Food
Much of the food served in restaurants is rich and heavy food. Chefs that are surrounded by this cuisine on a daily basis tend to find themselves not wanting to eat very much of it. This prevents them from eating a lot of the food they cook.
Many people will know the feeling that a cake tastes better when someone else has made it!
If I may use the holiday analogy again; how many people when it gets to the end of their week long holiday crave some simple food? All the restaurant food they have been eating is great tasting but our bodies tend to naturally gravitate towards a healthier diet when we begin over doing it.
If a person works in a chocolate factory, I am sure they love and can appreciate great tasting chocolate, however I bet before long they get a little tired of eating it. It’s the same for all high level cooking.
Chefs Understand Food Nutrition
As part of their training chefs develop a solid understanding of food nutrition. This education leads many of them to make healthier choices regarding food intake in their everyday lives.
Chefs begin to instinctively know the make up of foods, be it high in fat, high protein etc. This allows them to know what kind of food types to avoid.
As an example, all chefs will know that mash potato in a restaurant contains large amounts of butter, cream and salt, so they are likely not to order it when watching their weight. Many people without this knowledge may order the dish believing it to be a relatively healthy option!
Chefs Are Aware Of Food Quantities
Chefs are aware of food quantities which allows them to make healthier choices. If a chef reads a label and it states 30g sugar, a chef who weighs sugar on a regular basis can picture what this looks like in a bowel on the scales. This makes them less likely to pick up the fizzy drink.
This was a big factor in my own career. Once you see items weighed out on a scale you can really picture the food choices you are making.
As an experiment, take a look at the sugar content of your second favourite fizzy drink (don’t use your favourite otherwise it will put you of for life, and we all need vices). Now weigh out the amount of sugar it contains into a bowel. That comparison between the number printed on the label and the visual evidence in front of you is a big eye opener.
Chefs Often Smoke Which Keeps Them Slim
It cant be ignored that many chefs smoke, which is part of the reason they stay slim. Smoking is known as a hunger suppressor. Quite often during a quick break a chef will choose to go outside for a cigarette instead of having some food.
It goes without saying that smoking is incredibility bad for you, and whilst it certainly doesn’t make chefs healthy, it is one of the factors as to why many of them stay thin.
I will add here that the smoking culture among chefs (especially in the UK here) is beginning to wain. More and more chefs are understanding the value of an overall healthy lifestyle in terms of career longevity and quality of life.
Chefs Don’t Have Much Time Off
Chefs have very little down time and as a result their opportunities to pile on the pounds are limited. Many people who struggle with weight issues find the evenings, sat in front of the television, the hardest not to over indulge. As chefs are rarely at home this is not really a concern.
Another factor in not having much time off is the desire to cram as much into your days off as possible. Chefs are generally an out-going bunch and a rare day off is spent exploring or trying out new activities. Most do not choose to spend their time indoors sat down.
Chefs Appreciate Quality Over Quantity
A chefs love for food makes them more likely to choose good quality meals over poor quality food served in large quantity. Good quality meals are often smaller and enjoyed at a more leisurely pace.
A reason many people struggle with their weight is over indulging in poor quality food that is served in huge portions. Large mounds of chips hold little appeal for a chef who can access them at any point during a working day.
Instead, what often ends up happening is a chef will hunt out good places to eat that have been recommended. Perhaps a great tapas bar or a sushi restaurant. Inevitably in these type of venues, the portion sizes are smaller as it is the quality of the dish you are paying for.
Chefs Adapt To Not Eating Large Portions
During a normal working day a chef will often pick at various food items to keep hunger at bay. This grazing style stays with them on their days off. Their bodies naturally need less food so sends the signals to the brain that they are full earlier on. This prevents overeating and stops excessive weight gain.
The eating of smaller portion sizes is often not a conscious effort but a habit picked up from eating smaller amounts all week.
Chefs Can Cook
The obvious fact that chefs can cook make it easier for them to eat healthier meals as they know how to prepare them. Contrast this with someone who doesn’t cook and has to rely on takeaways or microwave meals and we see why chefs are able to maintain their weight easier.
Being able to look into the fridge and conjure up great tasting, but also healthy food, quickly is a huge advantage for chefs. By cooking more food at home it allows them to be aware of exactly what they are eating and prevent the takeaway binge that many people suffer from!
To Sum Up
There we have it, the Top 11 Reasons why chefs stay slim. I feel we should end by pointing out that although chefs are often slim, this does not mean that they are healthy!
The above reasons are not intended as a blue print for someone hoping to lead a healthier lifestyle. Whilst many chefs are slim, I’m not sure there are many that could be held up as examples of how to live a healthy balanced lifestyle!