There it was, a 4-pound weight gain after only a week of culinary school.
Was it the bananas foster with ice cream? Maybe the grilled ribeye with compound butter? It couldn’t be the delicious little arancini balls, could it?
It was probably the fact that I ate full servings of ALL those things in a matter of 5 hours.
No one is going to tell you that the freshman 15 in culinary school is more like the freshman 30 or 50. Get this, I’m even a Dietitian and I was somehow struggling to stay fit.
Always remember, at the end of the day if your body is taking in more calories than it needs, you will gain weight. Everyone has a different metabolism and it’s important to find foods and meal patterns that work for you. Just because your 100lb friend eats candy and soda for breakfast doesn’t mean you should.
Here’s what I learned along the way and how you can still experience culinary school or the daily kitchen grind to the fullest without the added pounds.
- You need to taste and taste a lot. This is how you will develop your palate and learn to season correctly. I started to eat smaller portions for breakfast and lunch to accommodate the likely ~500 calories I would try during a lab course.
- You don’t need to eat it all. SO TEMPTING. Food is delicious but unless you are burning a ridiculous amount of calories, you really don’t need to eat all of it. I started giving away my food to others or bringing it home to family. Share the wealth of your creations!
- You need to stay physically active. Pick a regimen and stick with it. I was up at 5:45am every day so a morning workout was out of the question. I would make it a point to come straight home and get on the treadmill or lift weights for AT LEAST 30 minutes. Sticking to a fitness routine helped give me energy and keep my mind at ease.
- You can’t outrun a bad diet. It’s true. You can’t run off those daily cheeseburgers and soda. Eating “junk food” on the regular will likely wreak havoc on your cholesterol, blood sugars, and even risk for cancer. You need nutrient-dense foods that your body actually enjoys utilizing. For breakfast, I would eat a veggie scramble, whole grain toast with banana and peanut butter, or a whole grain bagel with an olive oil fried egg. A combination of unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and protein will keep you from snacking on anything and everything until lunch time.
- It’s okay to say no. Some mornings we would have waffles or biscuits and gravy just because. I’m familiar with what those both taste like and thanks to my filling and healthy breakfast, I could easily pass them up.
- Drink up! Water that is. It’s easy to get dehydrated in the heat of the kitchen. Instinct might tell you to grab a free soda or juice. Don’t. Those things are filled with sugar and empty calories which will definitely lead to unwanted weight gain. For example, a 20oz Coke has 240 calories. It’s recommended for most people to drink at least 80oz of fluids daily depending on your weight, activity level, age, etc. If you drink 80oz of Coke a day, that’s a whopping 960 calories. HOLY CRAP RIGHT?!?
- Don’t give up on yourself. It’s easy to have a bad day and turn to a box of donuts (been there). If your dish is burnt, the chef isn’t happy with you, or you overate at your break, DON’T WORRY. Life happens. Stick to your regimen, take a walk outside, cuddle a puppy. Everything will work out in the end.