I’m a “Top Chef” junkie, and one of my all-time favorite contestants is Washington, DC-based Chef Carla Hall. Where other contestants brought ego and attitude to the table, Hall always served up her own flavor of generous, spirited optimism. She consistently dazzled judges with her creative spin on nourishing fare, like a stellar vegan African Ground Nut Soup. The show’s viewers shared my affection for Hall and voted her the fan favorite in the recent “Top Chef: All-Stars.” And now she’s one of the favorite co-hosts on the popular ABC daytime series, “The Chew.”
Hall originally wrote this blog post for her site and is letting us share it with you here. We think you’ll love her philosophy on healthy eating and why good nutrition, moderation and occasional indulgences all belong on the same plate.
By Carla Hall
The key to smart food choices starts with a healthy balance of nutritional foods that allow for some less nutritional foods in moderation. I personally have temptations and unhealthy foods that call my name from time to time. But in order to avoid the feelings of deprivation that can lead to weight gain, you must indulge.
Yes, indulge! Everyone needs to treat themselves from time to time for following a healthy and balanced lifestyle. But be sure to treat yourself in moderation. Know when enough is enough.
Here are some quick tips to help you eat the things you love without overindulging.
Pay attention to your body, and stop when you’ve had enough.
I love food, and I love to eat, and being a chef, I’m constantly around food. If I don’t pay attention to portion sizes and my body’s cues, I’ll keep eating and eating until the food is gone. Eating slowly helps me pace myself and allows my brain to catch up. Matthew [Hall’s husband] is constantly alerting me when I eat too fast.
Eat only when you’re hungry.
This can be difficult for most people. One great way to tell if you are really hungry or just being impulsive is to ask yourself: If the plate was full of broccoli would you still eat it? If you wouldn’t, then don’t reach for the treats that are tempting you.
Give in to your cravings from time to time.
If you have a sweet tooth, go ahead and eat a cookie. But only have one instead of two or three . . . or the whole plate. Easier said than done, I know. Eating in moderation requires training on your part. If you’re able to train yourself to give into cravings without binging, you’ll be able to enjoy the not-so-good foods from time to time.
Use your salad plates.
Studies have shown that using smaller plates at meal time will help you eat less. Another easy trick is to keep the serving dishes in the kitchen while you eat in the dining room. This forces you to get up and walk to the kitchen if you want more.
Everything in moderation leads to a happier, healthier life, as demonstrated in my approach to cooking natural and organic meals with Southern and French-inspired flair.
Beyond what you put in your mouth, regular exercise every day will help you add balance to your life. It’s a natural progression to watch what you eat if you have a consistent exercise regime. Those who have a balance of diet and exercise will ultimately reach total health and wellness faster than those who don’t.