Food Pros Weigh in on Weight Maintenance

Ivan "Ramen" Orkin and eight other career chefs share advice on what foods to eat in order to maintain their weight.
Published March 4, 2019

Ivan "Ramen" Orkin and other culinary mavens have mastered the art of staying healthy. We asked a group of our favourite food pros about how they stay slim. Here's their best advice.



Track, track, track again


“I started doing [WW], and I really got into it. The app teaches you just how severe it is to eat a giant slice of chocolate cake. You think, Oh man, was it worth 65 percent of my whole day’s SmartPoints budget? It teaches you to make better choices. At the same time, I cut out sugar and carbs, bread, rice, pasta—except ramen, because that’s what I do for a living. I’m Ivan Ramen. I eat my ramen all the time.”  — Ivan "Ramen" Orkin, Owner of Ivan Ramen


Plan your meals and skip the BLTs


“When I’m on a food photo shoot all day, my main strategy is to be prepared. I prep a healthy breakfast and lunch the night before, and once I’m on set I have a zero-tolerance policy for the other food that’s there, whether it’s the dishes we’re photographing or the catered meals. And no BLTs if I can help it!”  — Susan Spungen, Author of The Artisinal Kitchen: Party Food


Pile on the veggies


“If I can always just pack myself full of vegetables and not leave a lot of room, then I won’t be tempted by cookies and stuff. Whether I’m cooking for others or eating at home, I plan what I’m cooking around vegetables—what I have, what’s in season. It’s a treat to be fed those things—a luxury and a gift. And it makes me feel so much better. Healthy and strong, like Popeye!”  — Samin Nosrat, Cook, Teacher, and Author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat


Feed your friends


“Entertaining is a lifesaver to me. It keeps me from drowning in food. As a recipe developer, I don’t always get to be the boss of what goes into my body. Sometimes I'm testing—and tasting— Thanksgiving recipes in summer. So when testing large-format recipes, I have people over! I can’t eat it all, and I don’t like to waste food. So my solution is to share it.”  — Alison Roman, Author of Dining In


Trust in small steps


“I recently wrote my first cookbook—about pasta. In the process, I gained 20 pounds and was unhappy with how I looked and felt. (Pasta isn’t unhealthy, it’s just hard when you’re eating it twice a day.) So I made a commitment to get back on track. I took a hard look at my diet and made small changes that didn’t feel like I was denying myself. I started making things that taste good but aren’t over-the-top. Highlighting seasonal produce and fresh herbs is an easy way to stay on track. And I use meat more as an accessory rather than a main ingredient.”  — Colu Henry, Author of Back Pocket Pasta


Create a balance


“I cook for schoolkids ages 8 to 18, and my challenge is to teach them about eating real food (no processed food). We use no butter or sugar except for dessert, and dessert is only once a week. That’s pretty much how I eat, too. I do taste everything, and make adjustments as needed; kids are so impressionable that if they taste something they don’t like, they’ll never try it again. I make up for all this tasting by eating a big salad for lunch with vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil. I’ve tried skipping lunch, but that backfires when I’m hungry later on.”  — Chef Bobo, Executive Chef and Director Food Services at The Calhoun School


Eat what you love


“It might sound crazy, but for the last two years I’ve eaten Greek yogurt and berries and nuts for both breakfast and lunch. I just love it, and I find that if I have a set routine for those meals, then I can taste the recipes I’m working on throughout the day, and cook and eat what I want at dinner.”  — Lauren Chattman, Co-Author of Dessert University


Find your rhythm


“For about 18 years I ran a test kitchen for Time-Life cookbooks, where I was required to taste two or three dishes an hour. I realized from the start that I had to be careful not to eat more than a bite or two. My body got used to eating small amounts all day. So now, even when I’m not testing recipes, I still eat tiny amounts throughout the day.”  — Grace Young, Author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge


Develop a signature dish


“When I was culinary director at Momofuku Milk Bar, I realized: After you’ve made something and tried it so many times, you don’t want more than a bite to make sure it’s delicious. One of the main sweet things I make is a churro cake. I’ve had it so many times at this point, I don’t crave a big piece.”  — Courtney McBroom, Chef and Owner of Large Marge, a Gourmet Food Company