It all started with the decadent, heavenly aroma that permeated the house.
I was making chocolate granola. As it cooled, I began gingerly breaking off small chunks to nibble on. Before I knew it, I couldn’t stop grabbing for more. And then almost half of it was gone.
As food bloggers, we like to ensure that our recipes are amazing before we share them with readers. We’re obsessed with new flavours, bold tastes and intriguing combinations, and we love to experiment.
Unfortunately, all that testing, tasting and eating can have a beastly impact on our physical (and even emotional) health.
Unless you have a large family to feed or work as a lumberjack, those extra calories are likely going to end up in places you don’t want them to be, like your hips. Or your arteries. Weight gain aside, excess eating can put us at risk for a wide range of other problems including inflammation, diabetes, sleep disorders, fertility issues, heart disease and more.
Don’t worry, no need to back away from the spatula just yet. Here are a few tips and tricks to staying healthy when you’re a food blogger.
Taste, don’t devour.
Of course you need to taste your food. But is it necessary to inhale those cheese puffs like a cyclone? Studies like this one and this one show that when we take smaller bites, we eat less and feel more satiated. So take a little sip, spoon a small mouthful or pinch a little bite.
Share the wealth.
Who says you have to eat every last drop of the food you make? Part of the joy of cooking is sharing your creations with others. Give the leftovers away to hungry coworkers, friends and neighbours. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and can even offer you valuable recipe feedback.
The freezer is your friend.
Package up your excess food and leave it in the freezer for a rainy day. I like to batch cook and freeze jars of soup, chilli and stews so I can defrost them later for a no-fuss healthy meal. I also put batches of muffins and cookies in the freezer and pull them out when a sweet craving strikes.
Learn how to store food properly in the freezer (here is a great resource from Mark Bittman to help you do it). Don’t forget to label containers with the date and contents inside. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put something in a jar and said to myself, ‘I’ll remember what that is. It’s so obvious’. And then gazed at it a month later, scratching my head, without the foggiest notion of what I put in there.
Scale your recipes down.
If you don’t have a large family, try experimenting with recipes that serve two that can be easily doubled or tripled for more people. This works for all kinds of recipes: soups, stews, chilis, pizza, sandwiches, drinks, dips, condiments, and more. That way, you don’t end up with an excessive amount of food to tempt you. This strategy doesn’t work as well for baking, since scaling recipes up or down can impact the end result. But for cooking? Go for it.
Relinquish the quest for perfection.
I know, I know. This can be hard for some of you. While I consider myself a cranky stickler in many areas of my life, I don’t strive for flawlessness when inventing recipes. I use a lot of organic ingredients, and I simply can’t afford to make something eight times. Plus, food waste is one of my biggest pet peeves.
Accepting there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ recipe will save you from having a heap of chocolate cake on hand that whispers seductively to you in your ear.
Vigorous recipe testing has its place, of course. However, do you need to do that for every single blog post? We all have a tendency to be self-critical. You may feel your chocolate cake needs work, but your neighbour down the street would likely think it’s the best cake she’s ever had.
Sure, we eat for nourishment and enjoyment. However, we also eat when we’re stressed, angry, anxious, lonely, bored or distracted. I encourage you to think about the emotions that drive your eating and how you can overcome them.
It might sound a little hippy-dippy, but being present with your food is a sure-fire way to stop emotional eating in its tracks. This includes chewing well, eating while sitting down, eating slowly and being grateful for your food.
Take the time to experience every aspect of eating, including the way food smells, the way it looks on the plate, the shapes and colours, and how it feels in your mouth.
We all know that regular exercise helps us lose weight, feel energized, improve our mood and sleep quality, and enrich our sex lives (wink, wink). If you’re recipe testing, can you find a way to sneak in more physical activity, too? Try going for a 15-minute walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, attend a yoga class, dance to your favourite tunes or hop on your bike and pedal in the sunshine. Remember, you don’t need to huff and puff at the gym for two hours to benefit from exercise. Studies show that short bursts of activity add up, too.
Drink lots of water.
Water carries nutrients, proteins, hormones and other chemical signals throughout our bodies. It’s essential to flushing out toxins and reducing inflammation and pain. Water also improves digestion and diminishes hunger, so there are plenty of reasons to drink it. Aim for at least eight to 12 cups a day. Try setting an alarm on your computer or phone, or download an app that reminds you to drink it. You can also fill up a few water bottles or mason jars at the beginning of the day, and keep sipping until they’re empty. Add refreshing elements like cucumber slices, lemon, or berries for more interest and pizzazz.
What health tips would you add to this list?
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer and food blogger. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com.