Willpower Secrets From the Pros
Avoid mindless munching
They say you should never trust a skinny chef. But what about a petite food stylist or a svelte cupcake queen? The fact is, when your job involves truffle fries instead of office supplies, you have to get creative at dodging food so you don’t blow up like a human soufflé.
We asked women who whip up culinary delights for a living (or are just near them all day long) how they keep themselves from nibbling 24-7. Steal their real-life-tested tricks.
Front-load your calories
"My key to not eating cupcakes all day? A high-protein breakfast fills me up and keeps me satisfied. My favorite: egg whites with basil and tomatoes. And I plan a lunch I can look forward to, like brown rice sushi or chicken and broccoli. Yum!"
—Linda Lea, producer for the Food Network’s Chopped and co-owner of Butter Lane Cupcakes in New York City
Savor your sips
"When I’m at a wine-tasting party for a client, it can be hard to keep track of how much I’ve had to drink. The wine glasses (and calories!) can add up. My trick: Sip slowly. By the time we’re ready to move to the next pairing, they’ve cleared the glass away."
—Melissa Libby, restaurant publicist
"I brush my teeth multiple times a day because having a clean-mouth feeling keeps me from wanting to nosh. Fudge-stuffed cupcakes don’t taste as delicious with minty breath. Chewing on a piece of strong, pepperminty gum stops the nibbling cold, too."
—Bianca Henry, Today Show food stylist, New York City
Downsize your utensils
"If I’m tasting a dessert, I’ll use an espresso spoon—you can only load so much on it. That way, I can enjoya spoonful of chocolate pudding cake with coffee ice cream without overdoing it. Smaller spoon, fewer calories."
—Emily Luchetti, executive pastry chef, Waterbar and Farallon restaurants in San Francisco
Fill up on H2O
"As soon as I get to work, I drink 8 ounces of water. It helps me fuel and connect with my body, and I just don’t find myself reaching for cookies when I’m well-hydrated."
Make it bubbly
"I love mixing textures with meals, so I drink sparkling water with lunch or when I’m taste-testing food. The bubbles give me the sensation of being full."
—Jill Santopietro, senior food editor for chow.com
"I sample our goat cheese dozens of times per day. Instead of eating it on a cracker or bread, I’ll pop a piece on a slice of apple or eat it plain to save calories."
—Tasia Malakasis, owner of Belle Chèvre goat cheese creamery in Elkmont, Alabama
"For me, a key to not eating too much junk food on set is keeping a stash of healthy almonds to nibble on instead; they’re my perfect snack. The combination of protein and fiber helps prevent blood sugar crashes, the fat is good-for-you fat, and the crunchy texture requires a good bit of chewing, so I feel like I’m really eating something. Plus, they’re incredibly portable."
Make plans to indulge
"I’ll have an afternoon cappuccino with cocoa dusted on top. If I have that to look forward to, I’ll ‘behave’ throughout the day."
Preserve the goodies
"The freezer is one of the most underutilized tools in your kitchen. It’s not just for ice cream; I freeze nuts, brownies, and cookie dough. That way, I won’t eat it right away, and I don’t feel like I’m wasting food by throwing it out."
Be crazed (in a good way)
"We’re constantly on the go at work—lifting 50-pound bags of sugar and flour, squatting beneath baking trays all day long. These are not only great ways to burn calories at work, but they honestly keep us too busy to even think about snacking on cupcakes. And staying busy works no matter what you’re doing!"
—Katherine Kallinis and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne, co-owners of Georgetown Cupcake and stars of TLC’s DC Cupcakes
Think afternoon delight
"Customers will come in and say, ‘If I worked here, I’d be as big as a house!’ Believe me, I would be, too, if I didn’t stick to my rule of not eating sweets before 1 p.m. If I’m still craving a cookie in the afternoon, I’ll have one."
—Abbey Alpert, partner at The Flour Pot Cookies in Ambler, Pennsylvania
"Once a week, I’ll make a big stew. I add just 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a big pot and throw in garlic, onions, carrots, beets, low-sodium chicken broth, potatoes, beans, maybe some low-fat cuts of meat. When hunger strikes, I have a super-satisfying, low-fat dish that I can pig out on without feeling guilty, and then I don’t reach as much for the Camembert."
—Nadia G, star of Cooking Channel’s Bitchin’ Kitchen
Weigh your options
"I always ask myself, ‘Is it worth the calories?’ French-style nougat with loads of nuts and fruits dipped in dark chocolate is worth it to me; gummy candies and potato chips definitely are not."
—Nur Kilic,owner of Serenade Chocolatier in Brookline Village, Massachusetts
Do a doggie bag
"I am typically in 10 restaurants each week, and that’s just for business! Most of the food is so good I want to snarf down the whole plate, but I savor each bite and plan to ask for a doggie bag so I can enjoy the dish again. I love taking home that delicious food and recreating the experience for my 5-year-old."
—Elizabeth Moore, Atlanta-based restaurant publicist
Surprising ways to stop temptation
Can’t stop obsessing about that hunk of chocolate layer cake? You may actually be doing your diet a favor. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that thinking about a desired food makes you less likely to eat it. Why? Being exposed to the temptation (even in your thoughts) causes you to be less responsive to it.
And keeping tempting food around may make you less likely to chow down, suggests a study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The longer you’re exposed to a treat, the more self-control you build up by getting used to avoiding it. So those sweet temptations? No longer so tempting.