Chef Ed McFarland, owner of Ed’s Lobster Bar, shares his advice on healthy eating and home cooking.
Owner, Ed’s Lobster Bar
Over the past two years, during the months of home isolation, many people took the opportunity to cook more at home, changing many of our eating habits. More home cooking meant more fresh ingredients, but for some it also meant more baked goods.
Ed McFarland, the owner and chef of Ed’s Lobster Bar in Manhattan, says that more time spent at home offered people the chance to reconsider their eating and cooking habits for the better. The idea of a strict diet can turn many people off, but slight changes to your eating habits are easier to incorporate into your life. “The best way is to really start with a plan or vision for yourself every day,” McFarland says. “Take a minute each morning to visualize yourself eating healthy, exercising, and looking as you want to be.”
Choose home-made indulgences
An increase in baked goods doesn’t have to be a negative for your diet, McFarland says. The number one rule is to use more fresh ingredients. “If you are home and feel like you are making more baked goods, that’s okay, just avoid the processed foods. Just that one simple change of limiting or eliminating processed items from your diet goes a long way in creating a healthy lifestyle,” he says.
Growing your own vegetables or herbs at home can take your healthy eating habits a step further. “Growing your own vegetables and raising your own chickens are also great habits,” he says. “You are eating foods without pesticides and at the same time you are helping the environment by regenerating the soil with healthy nutrients.”
For people living with diabetes, natural sugars don’t have to be entirely avoided. “I always say fruits are the best, or homemade cakes and cookies made with high quality ingredients. Yes, there are sugars and flours in these foods. However, the effects on your body are not the same as buying a cake from the store or drinking processed juices.”
Keep it simple
Desserts aren’t the only problem foods when considering your sugar intake. “If sugar is an issue, I would definitely avoid starches, processed foods, and high glycemic fruits. Stick with fresh vegetables, meats, and berries,” McFarland says. “Cooking your own meals with fresh ingredients will go a long way in controlling your sugar levels.”
McFarland recommends doing a DNA food panel test to best understand your individual food choices. “I have done this and found it very helpful,” he says. “Obviously for something this serious you need to follow your doctor’s recommendations first.”
McFarland’s last piece of advice is to keep it simple. “Don’t add 100 ingredients into a dish. If you are baking a fish, just bake a fish. If you follow this, season your food to bring out the flavors, and don’t use too many ingredients, you will be very successful.”
No matter how you decide to adjust your eating habits, the real key to success is staying determined from the outset. “It’s up to you to decide how best to handle it, but set up some triggers to alert yourself if you get off track,” he says. “Get rid of the cookies and avoid that aisle in the supermarket. Change your buying habits. Nothing is easy and nothing is a quick fix; it requires work and effort but it’s so rewarding with how you feel after.”