4 Ways a Famous Food Critic Maintains His Physique


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  133 comments   :  22,370 Views

The Washington Post's food critic, Tom Sietsema dines out like it's his job…because it is. He spends 40 hours a week in restaurants, sampling food, wine and desserts to review for The Post. To many, it may sound like a dream job. But to others, you may wonder how a job like that would affect your waistline.

In some ways, it is hard to say since Sietsema takes deliberate measures to keep his identity a secret. What does he really look like? Only a few really know.

But he is conscious about his weight. A recent profile by Andrew Alexander, the man who eats for a living shared four excellent tips that we can use to enjoy the foods we love and still manage our weights.

According to the article, Sietsema uses the following strategies to keep his weight in check:
  1. Exercise. We all know it burns calories and can help us manage our weight. Do it regularly and consistently and you'll help prevent weight gain associated with overeating and help boost your weight loss.

  2. Portion control. This simple strategy allows us to eat in moderation, enjoying rich, fattening or even so-called "bad" foods without going overboard. Get some portion tips here.

  3. Spoiling his desserts. He stops himself from overindulging in after-dinner treats by "salting desserts after a few bites to spoil them." Although many of us might scoff at the idea of wasting food like this, for some, food waste is the only means by which they can stop themselves from eating. I've never tried the salting strategy myself, but I can see how this would work if you just can't stop yourself from eating the food in front of you.

  4. Cooking simple, healthful meals at home. "When dining at home, Sietsema said he cooks 'simply' for health reasons because 'it's the one meal I can control.'" SparkPeople members overwhelmingly cook at home, not just to save money, but also to stay in control of the food, ingredients and cooking methods of their food. It's a crucial strategy for anyone who wants to eat healthier or manager their weight.
How many of these four strategies do you use to manage your weight? Have you ever tried the " salty" dessert trick?

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  • 133
    3/4 of the tips are ones that I used. I wish I could salt my dessert(LOL), I am always trying to find a way to eat someone's else dessert. I do not cook desserts at home--no will power. - 1/6/2013   5:11:44 PM
    Just don't order unhealthy deserts. Or don't order deserts at all. Simple. Why would you waste food by salting it? To be honest, even if it was placed in front of me, I wouldn't eat an unhealthy food. It's called having self-control. - 6/4/2011   5:07:01 AM
    Never tried salting a dessert, but that's because I rarely eat dessert. - 1/23/2011   11:02:35 AM
  • 130
    I can't bring myself to salt a dessert because that seems like such a waste of money. If I want dessert then I'll look for one of those dessert shots like Applebee's hot fudge sundae shot or Tony Roma's red velvet cake shot. They are small enough for me to enjoy without feeling guilty - especially if I've eaten a light meal beforehand. I admit that when I went to a local Basque restaurant with a friend, I didn't care about calories. I just wanted to enjoy the meal and it was awesome!! One meal like that once a year isn't going to sabotage my efforts especially when I'm conscious of it. - 1/21/2011   9:18:51 PM
    Salting dessert-what a fab idea and now I am going to try it on cake.
    I love the comment of sugar on spaghetti-Will try all!!!1 - 11/30/2010   5:37:58 AM
  • 128
    We rarely eat out, so eating at home keeps us on track. We exercise every day also, keep the exercise bike in the living room, in front of the tv. Portion control at home because dh is a diabetic. But I eat dessert when we eat out, but only dessert and coffee, won't waste time and calories on the meal. This way I don't have to feel "guilty" about eating dessert, or eat "2 lousy spoonfuls" or some such nonsense. - 11/28/2010   9:46:30 PM
  • 127
    I do all strategies except spoiling desserts...because I use portion control ;) and luckly for me I don't have a sweet tooth like my bf, so we share the dessert or I'll just have at home a yogurt or a small mix bowl with cereal, honey, oatmeal and a banana to get my sugar kick. - 11/28/2010   10:33:12 AM
    I haven't salted a desert, but as one other mentioned, the french fries or other side items in a main dish are a weakness. I have often opened a Sweet n Low packet and dumped it all over my fries so I wouldn't eat them. When I eat out I usually get a large shrimp cocktail and a salad. I as them to bring plain balsamic vinegar on the side and don't ever use restaurant dressing. Restaurants can even kill a balsamic vinagarette or a honey mustard. - 7/15/2010   7:08:38 PM
  • 125
    love the comment of spoiling your food - growing up I was always told eat everything that is on your plate - their a children starving in the world - as an adult I still struggle with the notion that I need to eat everything on my plate - but in reality not finishing my food will not make children less starving! so I'm opting with the salt for spoiling the remainder on my plate - willing to try anything if it can make me stop indulging and overeating - 7/5/2010   10:41:38 AM
  • 124
    I definitely waste food as way to stop me from overeating. If I have company over, I try and send leftovers home with people, but many people say "no thank you." So when there are high calorie leftovers (especially deserts), I won't just throw them out, but I will destroy them by running water and dish soap over a cake or crumble it into the trash rather than throwing it away whole. - 6/22/2010   2:41:32 PM
  • 123
    I'm using #1 and #2, it does work. As an "unofficial chocolate controller" in my team, I can control my chocolate intake in the office as well as make sure the chocolate jar is not too full that people will think twice before getting more - need to think others, too, hehe. Before this, I usually take quite frequently from the jar because I worried I couldn't get enough of the nyummy chocolates. Now I take few for myself before sharing the chocolate, the packets are what I restricted for my intake and it does work! - 6/16/2010   9:49:01 PM
  • 122
    Yes to exercise, cooking at home, portion control and I rarely eat dessert when dining out. When I choose to I usually end up sharing it with my son, but I can't imagine putting salt on my dessert to keep from eating it all. If I am choosing to actually eat a dessert then I know I need to up my exercise/cardio for that day so will go ahead and do a splurge. - 4/4/2010   4:35:04 PM
  • 121
    I like the idea of putting extra salt on something you don't want to finish. If I had this guys job I would have to do that. Instead, I just don't order desert, even though I would love to indulge...
    A week or so ago I went out for dinner with my daughter, my friend and her daughter. My friend didn't want to eat any more fries, so she dumped her cup of melting ice on it. That worked, but it sure was messy and I don't think the server appreciated it!

    - 3/18/2010   11:37:27 AM
  • 120
    Exercise, yes.
    Portion control, yes,
    Cook and eat at home, yes.
    When I do eat out, I do not order dessert, but allow myself two spoons-full of DH's.
    - 3/11/2010   3:19:22 PM
  • VKT1961
    Great idea for the salting. I'm going to also do that to half the food on my plate so I don't overeat when I go out. Yes I'm wasteing food but better to waste it than to have it add inches to my waist line. - 2/21/2010   3:21:19 PM
  • 118
    I love to have a bite or two and leave the rest. I not very successful but now I'll SALT the rest of it, that is GENIUS! - 2/19/2010   2:03:09 PM
  • 117
    I cook at home.. and don't go out much. I usually just take one bite of my husbands dessert at a restaurant. He can't resist and I don't have to if I only have one bite.
    so.. I still get a nibble without over indulging. He's a calorie burning machine... so he can affort the 10-12 bites that I can't. - 1/28/2010   6:21:57 PM
    I exercise and eat in moderation. I don't eat out often but when I do I split dessert with a friend. - 1/25/2010   1:57:18 PM
  • FOX2566
    One of my friends pours water on extra food. It is easier for me to not order dessert, but not being a food critic, I have that option. When I do order dessert, I share it, or just enjoy and move on! - 1/15/2010   3:14:15 PM
    I had a friend who traveled a lot on business on an expense account, and was often the only woman among several men who went out for dinner. She would order four desserts, then take a bite of each one and give the rest to her co-workers. I would not have the willpower for that!

    I wouldn't ruin a dessert, but I always share if I can. I'm lucky that I don't really like the chips and fries so it is easy to leave them on my plate. I love having leftovers, so I often ask for a take-home box early and box up the rest as soon as I've eaten half of the entree. - 1/3/2010   9:15:56 PM
  • 113
    I travel quite a lot with work and feel very out of control when I do. Often I end up where the only choice is between a tray full of fried finger food and a plate of full-fat sandwiches covered with cheese or mayonnaise. I try to put myself as far away from the food as possible and if I can I'll disappear for a walk at lunchtime. I have put my napkin over any leftovers and make a habit of only having one pass at the food (no seconds).

    Thanks for this article. I'm off on travels again soon and feel better armed to keep things under control. - 1/3/2010   6:28:28 AM
  • TODD293
    “Being overweight sucked, but after reading your book, I lost 85 pounds! Words can’t express how good I feel!“ This is a comment which I recently received about the book Lose Weight Using Four Easy Steps which can be ordered through www.bbotw.com - 1/1/2010   12:37:39 PM
  • 111
    I NEVER order dessert - I make better ones at home. Sometimes a dessert is complimentary and I pass it to DH after taking a bite. - 12/28/2009   5:23:05 PM
  • 110
    I have to say, I think the salting the dessert idea is kind of odd, but it is definitely something to think about if I really don't want to eat anymore and am tempted because it is in front of me. - 12/28/2009   12:25:29 AM
    i use portion control, simple cooking that includes all the food groups with variety. I just starting my exercise program. As for desserts currently I only using fruits, low calorie treats, and low fat chips for snacks and treats and temptation busters - 12/25/2009   1:43:53 AM
    I don't skip or salt my dessert in a restaurant. Instead, I always SHARE it with my husband, and skip the icecream or whipped cream on top. - 12/21/2009   1:52:01 PM
  • 107
  • 106
    I use 3 out 4 of his tricks. I don't "salt" my desserts...maybe I should. - 12/6/2009   9:57:46 PM
  • 105
    I have never "salted" my desserts. I usually just try not to order/buy them. If I want something sweet, I drink diet soda or get a 100 cal. snack that is already portion friendly.

    I love to bake! Sometimes I will make a batch of cookies, a cake or a pie. I eat one of two pieces and then take the rest to work and share with others. Then I know not one person is over-eatting the sweets I make. - 12/6/2009   5:32:19 PM
    I've "salted" more then dessert. One time a bunch of us went out and ordered fries and it was the biggest order of fries I've ever seen. After everyone had their full one of my friends and I still kept eating them since they were sitting there and complaining to each other how we shouldn't keep eating them. I'd just read something about ruining the food so not appetizing so started grabbing the condiments and dumping stuff on the fries till we decided that it wasn't appetizing any more. It worked. - 12/6/2009   2:45:27 PM
    hmm...hadn't thought about the salting thing--i oughta do that. i don't order dessert, but i stopped putting salt on my food a long time ago (except for garlic salt on toast or plain scrambled eggs, but that's it), so that'd be something to try. or some other condiment at the table, like ketchup or whatever (which i nearly never eat). i wish i'd thought of that a long time ago--it'd have helped a ton! - 12/5/2009   10:18:58 PM
  • 102
    I have used oversalting for years though not with dessert - I just don't order dessert. I've used it to help portion control - for example, I'll seperate out a serving of hash browns and oversalt the rest. I just don't have the will power to leave them on the plate. If I make them inedible, then I just don't have any choice! I should say that I don't often go out to eat, so I don't employ this strategy often! - 12/5/2009   4:31:21 PM
  • 101
    1, 2 & 4 are great!! Number 3 is not NECESSARY for the average person (i.e... an individual not employed as a food critic). Waste is waste whether you are talking about eating extra food you don’t need or spending additional money on something you plan to ruin and not eat. Just don't order the desert in the first place or plan all your meals for the day out a head of time to work a nice desert in. - 12/5/2009   2:07:19 PM
  • 100
    i do all of them or try to do all of them except salting my dessert this is a great idea and i am going to start doing it thanks for this idea. - 12/5/2009   11:43:45 AM
  • 99
    I do all except salting the dessert, which doesn't seem like a bad idea. It may seem like a waste, but wasting food is better than putting excess in your body and potentially affecting your health. I always share with friends, however, and rarely order dessert when going out to eat. Just seems like too much food...I'd rather go home and eat some frozen yogurt or one cookie. - 12/5/2009   11:38:25 AM
  • 98
    I do all of them except salting the desserts. But I don't consider that a waste. The waste happens when too much is cooked or put on the plate. Why make matters worse by putting it in your mouth?!! - 12/5/2009   10:26:10 AM
    I eat out only occasionaly and rarely order dessert. If I did have a dessert I would enjoy every bite and get back on track the next day. - 12/5/2009   7:05:55 AM
    I totally get the whole salting the dessert thing. I just don't think I could bring myself to do that. I just cut out smaller portions and only get dessert when they're a bunch of people around to share. - 12/4/2009   10:37:17 PM
  • 95
    EXERSIZE by any means neccessary!!! Also, portion control, salting (occassionally) and allowing myself a little dessert to be satified and ward off binges!!! - 12/4/2009   8:37:24 PM
  • 94
    1. Exercise: still working on that one, although I'm incorporating more physical activity into my life, such as dancing to movie credit music; parking as far from the door as possible to get that extra walk in; volunteering to do any running that needs doing at work. Little things, but adds up in the aggregate.
    2. Portion control: Also something I'm actively working on, from using smaller plates to just serving myself less at dinner, then putting the plate in the dishwasher before I can put more on the plate!
    3. Ruining food: I cannot bring myself to do this, but I understand why HE does it, as he's a food critic and has to sample everything he orders (I think some of the other posters have lost track of this fact...it's his job!). I go along with the folks who either don't order dessert at all, or take a couple bites and then give to someone else to finish off.
    4. I definitely do this, cooking meals at home. The only time I don't is when my SO decides to cook, and I just have to eat less, as he's not into the whole healthy lifestyle thing that I'm into now. He can stand to lose some weight himself, but I realize it has to be his decision, I can't make it for him. - 12/4/2009   2:26:54 PM
    I am 100% with salting desserts. If a dessert is in front of my face, I will have absolutely no self-control. I usually don't order dessert at all when dining out so that an easier way not to eat it and to save a little cash. - 12/4/2009   11:22:12 AM
  • 92
    Salt on the dessert is one I have not tried. If I get dessert I usually split it or share with the whole table. Just a taste of two is all you need. - 12/4/2009   10:55:50 AM
  • 91
    Great Ideas! I'm sure I can use some of them. - 12/4/2009   10:24:28 AM
  • 90
    Some people have mentioned that he could avoid ordering dessert altogether, instead of wasting it...but he's a food critic, so that's probably not always an option for him. I think it's smart that he found a tactic that will stop him after the few bites he needs to put together the review. - 12/4/2009   10:18:55 AM
  • 89
    Huh - salt on the dessert. How about sugar on my spaghetti? I'm serious ok. Let me be perfectly clear - I LIKE EATING !!! Particularly when it's something I like the taste of. I'm not like my "show off" husband, who can eat a little bit & just SIT THERE. (I'm mainly talking home eating here) I think spaghetti is my biggest weakness in going back for 2nds & 3rds, & then nips out of the pot when I'm cleaning up. Now I don't think I'd buy a dessert at a restaurant & waste it, but the concept of "ruining the food" fascinates me. Might be covering it with a dirty napkin or something like somebody said... whatever. It's got my mind working.
    Jenn - 12/4/2009   10:13:17 AM
    Not sure about salting the deseserts (Eek!- I would rather share it than waste it) but, otherwise, he sounds as though he could be a "Spark Person" for sure. - 12/4/2009   8:40:33 AM
  • 87
    I think that salting a dessert is quite wasteful, but effective. Why not share it instead? Get a few bites of your companion's, then give it all to them. And at home, make much smaller portions of dessert so waste is a minimum. - 12/4/2009   7:07:33 AM
  • 86
    I've never tried putting salt on desserts and probably never will. - 12/4/2009   6:50:00 AM
  • 85
    I truly believe that the only healthy meal I can have is one that I prepare myself, at home. Even if it is a plate of nachos...if I make it I contol what goes in it. Then I know how much of it is really safe to eat.

    I've also been know to throw perfectly good food into the garbage to stop myself from eatting something that is not good for me! - 12/4/2009   12:36:30 AM
  • 84
    I think I can use number 3 ,TY - 12/4/2009   12:26:18 AM

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