Happy New Year! It's a new year, and if you're like me, you have begun the year by filling it with numerous resolutions for a positive transformation in several of your behaviors - mainly eating habits.
Over the last year I have amply demonstrated reckless abandonment toward my diet. Granted, It's only the first week of my new eating plan, so, in an effort to be more successful, I felt I should seriously ask myself why foods that should have shown a negative weight gain, showed a positive one.
I cut down on my fat intake and I exercised every day. I tried to blame the lack of weight loss on my age and my family history. Most of my relatives are always on a diet and I've been told if you need to lose weight then do it while you're in your twenties since the older you get, the harder it gets. Ok, so that excuse works for me. Then I blamed my irregular schedule and convinced myself that my mindless eating really didn’t make a difference in my weight.
I do want to be slimmer but, after all, I am a chef and a caterer and I must taste the food to make sure that I am serving you the best foods, flavored and seasoned to perfection. I thought the idea of portion control didn’t matter for me because I didn’t really eat big meals, I just tasted bits and pieces all day - every day. My mistake was that I didn’t realize that all those bits and pieces of tasting actually equaled a very high calorie meal . . . or several of them.
I teach food portioning and how to order catering and get the amount of food you expect to have arrive at the aircraft, but I wasn’t putting portion size increases over the years into my personal life. I have a chart that shows the growth of portion size with the corresponding caloric increase over the last 20 years. Frightening to say the least. An 8 oz. 45 calorie cup of coffee 20 years ago has changed to a venti Frappuccino now weighing in at a whopping 350 calories. As aviation caterers, we tend to send you, the client, more food than you actually need in the event of an unexpected passenger, or spillage, or overcooking, so you can recover that meal service. If you place an order by portion rather than by weights and measures, you will get more than you actually need in many cases.
So what is a normal portion?
I worked with both US, Middle Eastern and European caterers to see what each of us considered a normal portion. If you are clueless as to how much should equal a “normal” portion, not an oversized portion, the Mayo Clinic suggests using visual cues to make portion-control easy - no measuring cups needed. For example, a single 110-calorie serving of protein (piece of skinless chicken, a piece of meat or fish ) should be about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. A serving of pasta is about a half-cup - same size as a hockey puck. Seriously think, when was the last time your pasta portion was that small?
I found studies that reported, that if you don’t have muscle, it's harder to lose weight. The more muscle tissue you have over fat tissue, the more calories you burn. Secretly ladies, this is why men can lose weight faster and easier than most women. And as far as age is concerned, it's true; as we age, our metabolism becomes sluggish, and yes, after age 20 your basal metabolic rate decreases about 1-2% per decade (so that makes me at . . . oh, never mind!) which means your body burns 150 fewer calories a day per decade! Ouch.
My big disappointment was that kitchen work, sitting at my desk, doing catering deliveries, sitting in traffic, flying on planes, are listed as sedentary activities. This type of activity means we will slowly lose muscle and increase body fat, which equals that sluggish metabolism. Also, don’t underestimate the power of moving. Even if you faithfully walk the treadmill for an hour each day or go to yoga class - what are you doing the other 23 hours?
I decided I needed to prove my excuse for lack of weight loss. Genetics. This extra weight couldn’t all be my fault, could it? Who could I blame other than myself? The University of Kentucky Clinical Nutrition Weight Loss Center has researched why so many of us have difficulty losing weight. Their research states:
"To survive in the days before food was readily available, the human body evolved coping strategies - slowing the metabolism, storing body fat, and stimulating the appetite when body weight was lost. The idea was to prevent dying of starvation when humans didn’t have enough to eat. Now that food isn’t scarce, these biological processes can work against us. The intestines make about two dozen hormones – some that stimulate eating and others that decrease the need to eat.”
To further pass the weight gain blame on my ancestors I found in a study done by the University of California Medical Center: “A child with one obese parent has a 50% chance of being obese. When both parents are obese, their children have an 80% chance of obesity.” Unfortunately I can only blame two pounds of the total weight gain on genetics.
Now to you. You are responsible for your passengers and flight crew who have made the same resolution. How can you help? What should you order to meet their wish to fulfil their New Year’s resolution? I believe that most of us have many of the same delusions when it comes to dieting. Here is your challenge! Satisfy your clients while helping them to maintain their resolutions.
Many dieticians say if you like something, do not deprive yourself of it. By doing so, you will crave it more and are more likely to blow the diet! If your passengers like regular mayonnaise and not the low fat or the fat-free kind, order mayonnaise, but, in moderation, smaller servings, and fewer items that contain mayonnaise. This makes understanding average portion sizes by weights and measures so important. What you need to accomplish is eliminate the craving by providing small amounts of what your passenger likes. It's OK to enjoy that glazed doughnut or scone or croissant - but just one, and a small portion. That eliminates that mammoth jumbo butter croissant, but you can order a petite size instead. Be sure to inquire what your food source considers a portion size. At Tastefully Yours for example, we provide three small pastries per person and you may only wish to order one piece to eliminate the additional temptation. That croissant will still be there tomorrow or for the next trip to help satisfy the cravings. After all, croissants, incredible sauces you want to eat by the bowl, candy bars or pizza or whatever won’t drop off the face of the earth.
Know your passengers' habits when you place a catering order. Are they regularly exercising? Exercise is an important tool in controlling weight and maintaining good health, but do not reward that good work and exercise with food. Do your passengers and crew exercise? Do they exercise on their way to the aircraft, in the evening to unwind? or are they sedentary? If you’re tempted to follow a workout session with a smoothie or muffin for that flight consider these numbers first:
What could you order instead for your passengers and flight crews as they may be relying on you to help them with their resolution?
Order fish. But not just any fish. While most types of seafood are smart choices, they're not all fat-burning heroes like salmon and tuna. Salmon and tuna are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is important because not only do Omega-3s help grow your hair and nails (reason enough!), they stimulate a protein hormone in your body called leptin, which kicks your metabolism into go and regulates your appetite.
Order ancient grains and whole grains. These grains are your dieter’s best friends: Quinoa, Brown Rice, Oat, and Corn. These foods are considered whole grains (not to be mixed up with refined white carbs, which are basically the opposite of fat-burning foods), and chowing down on them fuels your body with much-needed fiber and complex carbohydrates. It's the "complex" part that helps burn fat:
Complex carbs break down more slowly than the simple variety, meaning your energy levels won't crash, and
They hold your insulin levels steady, which is good because insulin spikes encourage your body to hang on to fat. This is important to remember when menu planning for those passengers and flight crew with diabetes.
Order beans. Red beans, blue beans, green beans, brown beans. When I say "red" and "blue," I mean "pinto" and "navy." Whatever type of bean is your passenger’s favorite, you can count on one thing - nutrition experts agree it'll be great at helping your body burn fat. Beans are often thought of as a perfect food because of the amount of protein they contain. They are incredible because of this protein and fiber. Eating protein is one of the top ways to encourage your body to burn fat: It boosts your metabolism and helps you feel full and energized.
(A trivia tidbit: A pinch of ginger when cooking will eliminate the gassy side effect so be sure and request your catering source do this for you).
Where does the need for fiber come in for weight loss? Studies show that dietary fiber can help regulate your appetite and slow down your digestion, both of which are great for weight control. Aside from those navy and pinto beans, stock up on other fat-burning beans such as soybeans, garbanzo beans (hummus too), black beans, white beans, kidney beans, and lima beans.
Order Dairy. If Quinoa is your new best friend as it is mine (love it as a side salad, hot vegetables and so much more), Yogurt should come in at a close second. Dairy products contain both protein and calcium, which help keep your muscle mass intact while encouraging weight loss. Remember muscle tissue enables the body to burn the fat tissue as long as you have more muscle than fat. Another tidbit of good news about dairy: Studies show that of two groups of participants on low-calorie diets, the group that included dairy in their diets lost more weight than the dairy-free group. If that isn’t enough incentive to eat more yogurt and dairy research shows that probiotics found in some light dairy fights fat.
Order more fruit and veggies. Numerous studies report that people who eat more fruits, veggies, nuts and whole grains aren’t as likely to let weight creep on, year after year. Reduce your catering orders of starchy vegetables and include more garden fresh vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, green beans and other non-starchy vegetables. I had started to increase my fruits and vegetables and decrease those starchy vegetables that I love so much. Instead of a bowl of buttery heavy cream fluffy mashed potatoes, I’ll enjoy a single spoonful . . . or at least try.
Order wine. As if any of us needed another reason to drink red wine! I've saved the best for last of course!
Research has shown that red wine (found in extracts of a certain type of red grape) may help your body fight fat. The study found that people who ate a high-fat diet accumulated less fat when they also consumed Muscadine grapes. On the other hand, the group that also ate a high fat diet but didn't consume the red grapes accumulated the amount of fat that would be expected based on their food choices. The results are attributed mostly to something called Ellagic Acid, a compound found in Muscadine grapes. Muscadine grapes are grown primarily in the southeastern United States, and they’re used to make certain American wines. Cheers! Bet we will see a rise in the production of Muscadine red wine!
If we start making excuses for questionable food and exercise choices, we’ll never stop. I was looking for someone other than myself to blame my weight gain on. I am officially calling a war on the battle of my bulge. And I won’t forget that you don’t need to deprive yourself, your passengers, and flight crews for them to keep up with their New Year’s resolution!
About Paula Kraft . . .
Paula Kraft is the founding partner of the DaVinci Inflight Training Institute located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the founder/president of Tastefully Yours Catering, an aviation specific caterer, located in Atlanta, Georgia for over 35 years.
Paula is active with many aviation and catering-related groups including the International Caterers Association, the International Inflight Food Service Association and is a board member of Women in Corporate Aviation. She is the past chair of the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee Caterer’s Working Group for 15 years perfecting unique catering training sessions for NBAA conferences and events. Currently, she serves on the NBAA Flight Attendant Advisory Committee and is a member of the Training and Safety Subcommittee. Paula was a founding member of the Steering committee for the creation of a European Flight Attendant Committee and conference and serves as a subject matter expert to the board of International Standard for Business Aircraft Handlers (IS-BAH).
After founding Tastefully Yours Catering, she has been offering culinary and food safety related training to the general aviation community. With a strong dedication to improving catering safety, risk mitigation and safe food handling, she developed and introduced the concept of “catering safety management systems”. As a certified food safety instructor, Paula offers catering SMS and culinary classes for all aviation professionals.
Paula’s first-hand experience, business acumen, research, and relationships make her an industry expert - one which allows her to share information that will help raise the professional training level for flight attendants today that will reduce the risk of food-related concerns tomorrow.
From Paula . . .
I have coordinated training programs and clinics for NBAA and EBAA conference attendees for over 10 years, created mentoring programs for caterers and flight attendants to broaden their aviation culinary skills, and to assist them in adapting to the unique challenges and constraints found in catering for general aviation. I recognize the need for training and have worked closely with flight departments, flight crews, schedulers and customer service reps at the FBOs to ensure that catering specific training provides information and skills necessary to reduce risk while assisting them in their job duties that include safe food handling, catering security, accurate transmission of food orders, and safe food production, packaging and delivery.
I fell into aviation catering quite by accident. I was the in-house caterer and bakery supplier for Macy’s department stores in Atlanta when catering was ordered for a Macy’s customer which was soon to change my life. After the client enjoyed the catering provided, I was summoned to the client’s corporate office to provide several of the items delivered through Macy’s to the executive dining room. Within a week, I was providing food for the flight department and my first order was for the President of a foreign country (as I was too be told soon after).
So, here I am, some 35 years later, still loving every minute of every day in aviation catering.
BlueSky Business Aviation News | 4th January 2019 | Issue #492
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