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Healthy Habits in Hospitality


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By Joseph D'Alessandro

December 19, 2011


You are so much fun to be around. You know how to host and how to serve; how to cook and how to present. Everyone hits you up for recipes and tips from table settings to the length of oven time their holiday roast requires for perfect medium rare.

What non-hospitality folks don’t understand is how hard it is to work around food all day long!

We asked hospitality professionals around the country what habits to make or break in order to stay healthy and we received a ton of responses and suggestions. Thank you everyone!

A handful of testimonies are below, and here is a boil down of the most popular wisdom from your comrades:
• Make time for yourself and get adequate sleep because a healthy mental balance will help prevent eating for “comfort”
• Exercise regularly (So many yogis in hospitality…wow!)
• Eat a healthy breakfast, and reduce flour and sugar intake
• Make the time for several smaller meals as opposed to eating standing up, on the run or at your desk and don’t go too long between meals (actually causes weight gain!)
• When tasting, either taste a tiny portion or don’t swallow (just like when tasting wine)
• Don’t snack or eat just because food is there (e.g.: half-filled hotbox or trays of pastries that come back from an event)

“I used to weigh a lot more than I do now. The hardest thing for me was telling myself that tasting wasn’t eating. We also have a staff meal before shift so that we are sitting down and relaxing before service. This really helped as I lost over 100 pounds. Exercising regularly also has allowed me to eat on a more regular basis.” – Thomas, Executive Chef, Omaha

“…I got a group gym membership for my employeesso we can motivate each other.” – Ronald, AKM, New York City

“…try to start the day with a heart-healthy breakfast of oatmeal and fruit/yogurt of some type, which helps to keep my eating on track for the remainder of the day.” – Anna, Special Events and Corporate Catering Representative, Chicago

“I don’t eat everything that I cook, I only taste.” – David, Executive Chef, Las Vegas

“I try not to snack at work. I make good choices when dining” – Jonathan, Corporate Director of F&B, Boston

“I make it a rule not to eat just because the food is there.” – Tracy, Sous Chef, Ontario

“Yoga, every chance I get.” – Valerine, Catering Company Owner, Ontario

“…rest and alone time is a necessity…” – Patti, Personal Chef, Atlanta

“Enjoy everything you cook! Only do it one bite at a time. Never eat the whole thing.” – BJ, Personal Chef, Atlanta

“For me, yoga has become important. The more, the better. Also I don’t drink as much alcohol as I used to. I save THAT for my nights off!” – Amey, Executive Chef, San Francisco

“BIKRAM!” – Rebecca, Chef/Owner, Milwaukee

“My biggest downfall is NOT eating. That puts on more weight than eating little bits of healthy food all day long.’ – Derrie, Chef, British Columbia

“…eat small meals throughout the day to maintain good weight balance, good energy and a healthy digestive system.” – Joseph, Culinary Consultant, Tampa/St. Petersburg

“…I taste and usually spit into napkin.” – Donna, Executive Chef, Nashville

“…stay away from pastry department!” – Vince, Personal Chef, Greenville, SC

“I eat three meals a day and abstain from flour and sugar.” – Anne, Foodservice Sales Manager, Chicago

“Keep your hands out of the Fry Bowl – smaller portions more often (keeps your metabolism burning). EAT BREAKFAST to start your day; not Coffee, Marlboros and Red Bull. Be sensible about your food intake and remember the food triangle as a kid. How many of us eat the right amount of fruits and veggies?” – John, Chef, Baltimore


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