Monday, March 16, 2009

Chef Pete's 10 tips for eating better

I suppose I'm not the first to talk about how to eat better, but it seems to be a popular topic, and a conversation that I have often with people that I know. This is a list of simple things that I follow to have a better diet and perhaps it will help my readers too. Many of these ideas I have learned through my education and training as a natural whole foods chef. I hope to expand upon some of these topics at a later date. I know it's difficult for people with hectic lifestyles to keep good habits, but it's worth the effort.

  1. Make your own food as often as you can. You will be able to control the quality of the ingredients and the portion size. Simply prepared meals at home are usually better, both in nutrition and cost value and maybe even the taste, than restaurant meals. Try making some foods in bulk and freeze for later use to help save time, like sauces, soups and stews and even casseroles.
  1. Love what you eat. Food has to taste good in order to want to keep eating it. Try to find recipes that taste good and are easy to do that include lots of vegetables, good proteins and whole grains.
  2. Eat whole foods as much as you can. An apple instead of apple juice, steel cut oats instead of cereal from a box, eat nuts instead of pretzels, good quality cheese instead of ice cream, and munch on a carrot instead of a cookie (unless it's one of mine).
  3. Eat as many colors as possible (especially green). Nature made it easier for us by putting different nutrients in foods that have different colors.
  4. The opposite of whole foods is overly processed foods. Stay away from packaged foods that have more than a few ingredients, especially if the ingredients have more than 3 syllables. High fructose corn syrup and trans fat should be avoided as much as possible.
  5. Make healthy choices throughout the week, but allow yourself treats too. Just pick out treats (like one of my cookies) that are great and worth the deviation. Don't forget that one not so healthy meal isn't going to make much of a difference. It's overall diet that matters. So enjoy the occasional burger and fries and leave the guilt at the diner.
  6. The first purpose of eating is survival, second is nutrition and third is enjoyment. I feel lucky that I get to go to number three quiet often. Just the same I try to stay in zone 2 the most and find food that would be found in both 2 and 3.
  7. It's all about balance. Don't drive yourself crazy but try to make food choices based on what you eat throughout the course of the day and in relation to what you eat all week.
  8. I like to have a variety of foods in my pantry that can make a boring meal taste better. For example, sun dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, chipotle peppers, coconut milk, red curry paste, whole spices (once a spice is ground the essential oils dissipate and so does the flavor), fresh lemons and other citrus, good quality sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh herbs, nuts and seeds and so on.
  9. Stay away from most diet books and experts on nutrition. Do what makes sense for your lifestyle and food traditions. Also, make changes in reasonable increments. For instance if you love eating bagels for breakfast try to eat whole wheat bagels or eat only a half of a bagel with some fruit. If you normally put butter or cream cheese on the bagel, try hummus, maybe with a slice of tomato and baby spinach.


  1. 11. Go Vegan!
    It's the best thing you can do for your health, the health of our fellow animals and the health of our planet.

    :) Great article, Cheers!

  2. Thanks Zucchini Breath. My wife is vegetarian, and I was for 15 years, though not vegan. I am an excellent vegan chef though and we eat mostly vegetarian.