Jamie Oliver was recently in the news after an Australian journalist asked him about his weight.
But this begs the question: how does a celebrity chef lose or manage their weight?
Specifically, Jamie Oliver has three things going against him:
1. He's in an industry that is all about food, so he's surrounded by it ALL THE TIME.
2. He can't go on a regular diet with a strict eating plan. Can you imagine Jamie Oliver on a deprivation diet? It is just wrong.
3. He has very little time.
So, before we talk about solutions, what's he currently doing to manage his weight?
According to Jamie, "he eats fresh food and trains twice a week."
Let's take a look at each of these in turn:
1. Eats fresh food
A recent study showed that many people equate the words "organic" with "low calorie". Organic simply represents the manner in which the food is produced and has nothing to do with calories. But you can understand the confusion. It's called a halo effect. We assume that because something is good in one way, that it must be good in others.
Similarly, with the word 'fresh', people equate it to other good things. Of course fresh food is great. It's certainly better than 'processed'. But this does not mean that you can't get fat eating it. Butter can be fresh. Nuts can be fresh. Olive oil can be fresh. All of these things are great, but you will get very fat if you eat a lot of them.
It all comes down to calories. If you eat more calories, and everything else in your life stays the same, you will gain weight. Butter, nuts and oil are high in calories.
Jamie Oliver may be eating the freshest food available, but if it is high in calories then he will be gaining weight.
2. Works out twice a week
Exercise is fantastic. It is so good for you in so many ways. In my book Slim and Healthy Without Dieting I talk about how the list of benefits of exercise resembles the advertising for one of those "health tonics" you could buy in the late 19th century. The difference is that the benefits of exercise are genuine.
But the fact remains, if you rely on exercise alone to manage your weight, you are setting yourself up for failure. First of all, it's often difficult to do enough exercise to balance off indulgence in your eating. And secondly, what happens if you get injured, or ill or even just busy? What happens if you don't get around to exercise for a few weeks. That small window of no exercise will be enough to gain a few pounds. And if that happens a few times a year, next time you look you'll be significantly larger in the mirror. Exercise should always be combined with cutting down what you eat.
So what should Jamie Oliver do?
It all begins with scrutinising what he eats. Usually I would suggest keeping a food diary. This is the method par excellence for recognising patterns in your eating and isolating trouble spots.
However, he as a chef, is often doing a lot of tasting of dishes in the kitchen. This is very hard to keep track of with a food diary unless he had it with him at all times and that is of course, impractical. But you can bet that over many, many tastings this accounts for a significant amount of his daily calories.
In this case, rather than keep a food diary for a long period of time I would settle for even just one day. This would be illuminating in terms of how many calories he is taking in over and above his normal meals.
And this highlights an important point. Our brains are not very good at acknowledging and balancing our calorie intake. Presumably, on some days, Jamie would be eating almost half a meal worth of extra calories just through tasting of various dishes. But that probably doesn't stop him sitting down for a hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner. In other words, his natural appetite and fullness mechanisms don't compensate for the extra calories he has between meals. And it's like that for most people.
What would be crucial here, is increasing the awareness of how much he is eating during his work day and compensating for it during meal times. As a young man and with a very small amount of weight gain, it won't take much to get him back on an even keel.
In other words, if he was just to slightly reduce the amount he ate at mealtimes, he would probably balance off the increased amounts he's eating while working.
If this seems too simple and easy, that's because it really can be that simple and easy for man in his thirties. if you can find the source of trouble and eliminate it, you can notice significant effects for seemingly small changes.