My name is Lisa Hunter, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and PR newbie, who joined Spoon PR & Marketing in August when the company’s director, Sarah, kindly took me under her wing. Working for Spoon on a part time basis, Sarah and her lovely team of Alice and Ailsa have taught me a lot about the world of food and restaurant PR and armed with a taste of what it is about, I took up the challenge of finding a full-time job within the profession. After a lot of hard work and fortuitous timing, I have managed to achieve my goal and start an exciting new job next week. This means that sadly, Friday is my last day with the Spoon team and one of my final tasks is to write a blog post, one with a bias towards health and wellbeing.
When I asked if Sarah had a preference in relation to the topic, numerous ideas were mentioned but one stuck in my mind due to the likelihood that the issue would be relevant to many business women who work within this industry (and men of course!).
The question? How is it possible to remain energised and in shape when working long hours that inevitably (due to the nature of the game) involve munching your way around ‘on-trend’ restaurants, client products and press events…
We are all aware of the unfortunate truth that taking in calories above the amount that our bodies require leads to weight gain. In fact eating just 500kcal/day over our requirements can lead to approximately 1lb of weight gain/week. If you consider that 500kcal equates to about one chocolate bar and two slices of toast with a scraping of butter and jam or (even more worrying) two glasses of wine, then it is easy to see how weight can start to pile on, even when award dinners and smart restaurants are taken out of the equation.
Whilst very aware that life is for living and that eating out often comes as part of the job description, if you are doing this three or four times a week then your waist line is unlikely to be your friend. Therefore, if the weekly dinner/event evolves into a multiple times a week occurrence, it may be advisable to select the occasions when it would not be social suicide to follow some of the points below.
The whole reason the diet industry fails is because it works around a state of denial. Depriving yourself of something only makes you crave things more or descend into a type of hunger that leaves you consuming five times as much as you would normally. Therefore just because you are going out for a lovely meal cooked by a talented chef does not mean you should deprive yourself throughout the day, in the hope that this will allow yourself a ‘calorie free for all’ come the evening. Instead change your food choices throughout the day to ones that will fill you up without piling in the calories. Combining protein and complex carbohydrates (such as wholegrain bread) will also help to ensure that your hunger stays at bay. Good examples include a lunch of a wholemeal bagel with a scraping of low fat cream cheese and a banana or three or four oat cakes with low fat hummus and a low fat, low sugar yogurt. If the afternoon munchies appear then have a selection of vegetable sticks to hand or munch on a small handful of unsalted nuts and dried fruit. Really need a sweet fix? Try having two Medjool dates which will provide a caramel sweetness with the benefit of fibre and vitamins and minerals. Consuming these types of foods in the day will help ensure you don’t reach your social occasion ravenous.
2. Start as you mean to go on
Mindset is an incredibly powerful tool in determining behaviour. I don’t believe the need to bring out any scientific research here in order to prove my point, as how often have you identified the fact that if you start the day with a pain-au-chocolate then it is much more likely that you will carry on making ‘unhealthy’ food choices throughout the day. The same applies to when sitting down for your meal, so go easy on the pre-dinner bread. I am not saying this from a ‘carb-phobic’ view point (complex carbohydrates should form an essential part of our diet) but rather because in light of the dinner that is to follow, the calories that bread (and the inevitably delicious salted butter that accompanies it) will provide is unlikely to be needed. So sit on your hands if need be but stay away from those bread rolls and you are likely to be able to save yourself around 250kcals before you’ve even started.
3. Choose carefully
Cream, cheese, butter, oil, sugar are all high in calories and with the exception of most oils, bad for our heart health. Therefore if choice is available then try and go for dishes that aren’t fried (shallow, deep or pan-fried all have a similar end result), don’t contain cream/butter sauces or that aren’t heavy on the cheese.
4. Watch the alcohol intake
Alcohol is a calorie heavyweight, containing 7kcal/ml. This means that a large glass of wine contains on average about 250kcal. Whilst, good quality wine may enhance the eating experience, try and sip modestly and save yourself a substantial amount of calories. Your liver will thank you too…
Even if throughout the week, you follow these rules at just one of your ‘eating out experiences’, you could save yourself enough calories to prevent that 1lb of fat from making home around your waist line or thighs. Now that has to be something worth celebrating…
To conclude, I would just like to thank Sarah once more for giving me the opportunity to spend some time at Spoon; she gave me my first break which was undoubtedly part of the catalyst that made my second break happen, and for that I will always be grateful.