Rocco DiSpirito Shares His Secrets For Staying Healthy - Exclusive

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Fine-dining chefs aren't necessarily known for cooking healthy food. At the beginning of his career, Rocco DiSpirito fit the stereotype. A 1998 New York Times review of his acclaimed restaurant, Union Pacific, mentions a woman moaning in pleasure while eating a foie gras dish (per Healthline, a 1-ounce portion of foie gras has 12 grams of fat, meaning it's almost 50% fat by weight). His second restaurant, Rocco's, served hearty Italian-American food. DiSpirito told Mashed in an exclusive interview, "My first two books were called 'Flavor' and 'Rocco's Italian-American,' and they were all about indulgence."

However, the pursuit of flavor at any cost has its consequences, and as Today reports, DiSpirito had a wake-up call in 2006 when his doctor told him he needed to take cholesterol and blood pressure medication. The chef dropped 30 pounds, started doing triathlons, and began publishing cookbooks about healthy eating like "The Pound a Day Diet," "Rocco's Healthy & Delicious," and "Rocco's Keto Comfort Food Diet." He also sells healthy food products on his website.

The chef talked to Mashed about his approach to healthy eating, how to balance health and flavor, and how he helps the clients of his private meal-delivery service reach their health goals.

How to eat healthy, according to Rocco DiSpirito

According to Rocco DiSpirito, if you're just trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you don't need to sacrifice flavor at all. He points to the Mediterranean Diet as the perfect example of how to eat in a healthy, balanced way while also eating delicious food. "[It's] a diet where most of your calories come from fruits and vegetables, a little bit comes from animal protein, a little bit comes from animal fat; that is the most sustainable diet pattern."

But things get a little bit trickier if you're actually trying to lose weight or recover from years of not paying attention to your health. The challenge increases as you age, as well. "The hardest part for most people, especially as you get into your 30s, is realizing you probably can't drink as much alcohol as you thought you could, you probably need to work out a little more than you thought you needed to, and you have to think about food a little more than you have been up 'til now."

DiSpirito is a big believer in the power of data to help people achieve their health goals. He uses data from devices like Fitbits and Wi-Fi scales to create personalized meal plans for the clients he delivers meals to. "When you fine-tune your food choices, you can achieve a lot in a very short amount of time. People have lost 10 pounds in two or three days and can't believe it."

For more information on upcoming Dan's Chefs of the Hamptons events, visit their website. Rocco DiSpirito's cookbooks are available on Amazon.