Four years ago, Chef Matt Jennings was told he could either lose weight or die. At 400 pounds, Jennings had high cholesterol, acute anxiety disorder, and was on track to become prediabetic. Once he realized just how out of control his addiction to food had become, the five-time James Beard Award nominee made simple, yet crucial dietary changes that may have saved his life.
Jennings told TODAY he credits opting for leaner proteins, choosing whole over refined grains, and eating a variety of produce for helping him lose weight. The chef began consuming smaller meals, eating four to five times a day to keep up energy and stay satiated. He also prioritized staying hydrated by drinking half a gallon of water every day.
One of Jennings’ favorite recipes is a simple seafood and vegetable dish with heart-healthy fats. He simply cooks fresh fish, potatoes, olives and herbs in a paper bag with radishes, green beans, and tomatoes at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. The only prep required is blanching the potatoes first, then everything else can be thrown in a bag and baked together for a hearty, clean, and flavorful meal. Steaming the fish and vegetables en papillote not only makes for a quick cleanup but also cooks all the ingredients without using much oil or butter.
Jennings also credits exercise for weight loss and maintenance. He told TODAY he had to start prioritizing exercise by working out first thing in the morning, otherwise, it would be easy to forget about during the middle of a fast-paced shift. (Related: 8 Health Benefits of Morning Workouts)
Losing weight doesn’t have to require intense workout regimens and a perfect diet (because there’s no such thing as a perfect diet, anyway). Jennings said it’s all about taking several small steps in order to achieve your weight loss goals. He also said by adding more fiber, healthy fat, and exercise to his diet, he has been able to maintain his 200-pound weight loss.
This story was originally published on CookingLight.com by Lauren Wicks.