By: Nancy LePatourel, Flare Magazine, Posted November 26 2002

NOTE: Chefs mentioned in this article are not members of The Chef Alliance; we cannot vouch for the services provided by them or that they have liability insurance to protect their clients.

From personal chefs to personalized eating plans, these are just three celeb tips and tricks that can work for you.

1. The Newest Information

Any diet book worth its price has a well-conditioned star singing its praises. Can you mention The Zone without images of Jennifer Aniston’s buff bod flashing through your head? This year, a new way of eating has taken Hollywood by storm.

The Paleo Diet (John Wiley & Sons) counts Winona Ryder, Veronica Webb and designer Nicole Miller among its devotees and its premise is simple. Author Loren Cordain explains that “our genes determine our nutritional needs.” Since the human genome has changed less than 0.02 percent in the past 40,000 years, our needs are the same as our Stone Age ancestors. 

“Unfortunately, we’re Stone Agers eating space-age diets,” says Cordain. So what does a caveman diet look like? “A hunter-and-gatherer diet consisted of 30–40 percent protein,” says Cordain.

Lean meats, fish and seafood were food staples then and should be now. Besides aiding in muscle building, protein will help you lose fat. During the digestive process, the body requires 2.5 times more energy to break down protein than it needs to dissolve carbohydrates or fat. A high-protein diet will, therefore, boost your metabolism, resulting in weight loss.

“A variety of fruits and non-starchy vegetables are also essential because they provide us with natural bulk and fibre to fill up our stomachs,” says Cordain, adding that “because [fruit and non-starchy veggies] are low glycemic, they normalize our blood sugar and reduce our appetites.” 

A few healthful fats from nuts, seeds and oils—such as olive, flaxseed and canola—complete the diet. Not only are these omega-3 and monounsaturated fats OK to eat, they actually lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. 

Foods to avoid include anything processed, dairy, refined grains and legumes. When you combine all this information, a sample Paleo menu looks like this: a two-egg omelette with fruit and herbal tea for breakfast; baked chicken breasts, veggies and a salad for lunch; fruit for a snack; fish with squash and mushrooms for dinner. 

If the thought of rarely eating bread again sounds like a life sentence to diet hell, the Paleo program can still work for you. “This isn’t a diet, it’s a way of eating,” says Cordain. “The closer you can emulate the diet, the better off you will be.” In other words, some change is better than none.

2. Portion Control

Don’t dine out if you’re trying to lose weight. You’ve heard it before. The portions are too big, the fat content too high. So how do celebs maintain their figures while dining out on a regular basis? By eating small servings. 

“As North Americans, our portions are far too large,” says David Adjey, executive chef at Toronto’s Windsor Arms hotel, who has cooked for the likes of Renée Zellweger, Elton John, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

“Be excited to try different things, but be wary of gigantic portions,” says Adjey, who is a big fan of tasting menus, which are offered nightly at the Windsor Arms. “You get to try five or six different items, but it’s small bites of food.” 

By satisfying different taste buds, you’re less likely to overeat. If the restaurant doesn’t have a tasting menu, try ordering one fish dish and one meat, then sharing with your date. 

Adjey describes his cooking style as “anti-fusion,” which basically means understandable ingredients. “I cook with foods you’d see when you’re walking down the grocery aisle,” he says. “People are so over trippy ingredients.” To add flavour to his dishes without extra fat, Adjey adds vegetable dusts and paints, created by dehydrating fruits and vegetables near the end of the cooking process. Carrots and beets are sweet, chilies spice up a dish and citrus rind has a tangy appeal.

“The best thing people can learn from the way celebs order is asking for clean, healthy food.” Avoid anything fried, eat starchy carbs in moderation and choose basic, high-quality ingredients. “The days are gone where you have a huge bowl of mashed potatoes,” says Adjey. “Smart people don’t eat like that.” Ask the waiter what’s fresh. Choose fish or lean meat, simply prepared, with five or six veggies.

3. Personal Attention

After a 10-hour day, followed by an intense workout at the gym, you arrive home exhausted and famished. You enter your kitchen to find fresh flowers and dinner ready and waiting. But the dream doesn’t end there. Your freezer is filled with dishes to last you through the month. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

No longer a luxury for celebrities and high-powered executives, personal chefs are the newest trend in convenience and healthy eating. A chef supplies the groceries, comes to your home, creates 20 one-serving meals to suit your dietary needs, then cleans up the kitchen, leaving the meal for you to enjoy. Terry Henderson, owner of ChefbyNite... describes his service as “hassle-free home cooking.”  Upon calling Henderson, he’ll set a date to discuss nutritional needs and food preferences. He feels this “kitchen interview” is the key to his successful relationships with his clients.

“If someone tells me they had a negative experience with a personal chef in the past, I ask if they did an interview. Undoubtedly, they say no,” he says. 

The Toronto-based chef has cooked for such celebrities as Denzel Washington and Brittany Murphy, so he’s used to catering to specific dietary needs. “Denzel was on the Eat Right for Your Blood Type diet, so all his meals had to follow that [book’s] plan.”

After the initial meeting, the chef sets up a convenient time to come in and cook. A personal chef generally charges $225 plus groceries and makes 20 meals at a time. This comes out to an average cost of $11–$15 per dinner, depending on the ingredients.

“Ordering in from a restaurant usually costs $16–$20 and usually isn’t very healthy,” notes Henderson. “When you look at it that way, a personal chef is an even better alternative.”

Henderson always leaves recipes for the dishes he prepares, heating instructions and report cards so clients can rate how the dishes fared. If you don’t love what you’re eating, there are hundreds of other choices.

Dining Star

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