Rachel Khoo


Posted by Rachel

January 24th, 2018

How to diet, the Khoo way.

Rachel Khoo diet meme

I get asked how I stay slim or what diet I am on a lot. Fair enough, I understand why. If you follow me on social media or have watched Zumbo’s Just Desserts you might wonder why I’m not the size of Violet Beauregarde when she gets rolled away by the Oompa Loompas (and no I don’t spit out the food off camera).

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a penchant for butter, cream and all things sugar. I am gourmande and enjoy the finer things in life. During my teenage years I often wished I was supermodel size (this was the era when being the size of fellow Croydonite Kate Moss reigned). I tried various diets (calorie controlled, cabbage – yuk!, fasting, diet pills…) and maybe for a week I’d be sticking to the rules but one week later I’ld be back to my old habits.

It took me a long while to accept that I will never be a size 0, which involved me going through the three stages above. I still have my body hang ups (somebody once gave me the nickname of ‘bingo wings and thunder thighs’) like everyone does, but I have finally made peace with who I am. Although I have my good and bad days (towards the end of my pregnancy and at the beginning of motherhood I had a fair share of bad days).

For me it’s important to feel strong, fit and healthy, rather than to achieve what society may deem as a norm for beauty. Rather than dieting, I try to have a balanced approach to food, or a more lagom (more about that some other time) approach to food.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Eat vintage

I’m a generous person, and when I’m dishing out food I often put way too much on the plate. This is where that old plate you picked up at your local charity shop will come in handy. Vintage plates like clothes are quite a lot smaller. Main course plates are almost the same size as an Ikea side plate. Instead of saving your vintage plates for special occasions, use them. Not only is it more fun but that smaller portion of food will look more generous than it would have on a that large white plate.

2. Share the love

I do a lot of recipe testing and quite a bit of it involves making desserts not just once but maybe twice or three times. That means I could have maybe three cakes in my kitchen at the one same time. It’s really hard to resist not just having a nibble when you walk past them. Instead of having temptation staring me in the face I pack the cake away to give to the neighbours, friends or even the plumber (makes me popular ;-), freeze or save for the weekend (see no. 4 later).

3. Take 5

Did your mum ever tell you to sit down and eat rather than grab a sandwich and run out to play? Well, you should listen to her. Too often we’re not actually conscious of what we’re eating. When I lived in Paris the kids I used to look after used to tell me off if I nibbled on the baguette on the way home from the bakery (so hard when it was freshly baked and still warm). And there is something to be said for not eating and walking or eating and doing something else. Take a moment to sit down and eat. Ideally put your phone away (I have a strict no phone at the table policy, bar a quick snap for Instagram). Be conscious of what you’re chewing. Savour, enjoy!

4. Save it for the weekend

It’s not easy when part of your job is tasting things, but when I can, I try to stick to having treats for the weekend. The Swedish have the term lödagsgodis (translates to Saturday treats). It was a campaign that kicked off in the 50s and 6os that encouraged parents to only give their children sweets at the weekend. It’s not easy, especially when there’s so much temptation around. I really struggle as I have a weak spot for sweet treats and crisps (luckily living in Sweden they don’t sell the small packets of crisps like they do in the UK). Not having the temptation in the house, keeping them out of sight and out of reach definitely makes things easier.

5. Eat more greens

After meeting this guy at Khoollect HQ this month and reading his book I’m trying to incorporate more greens into my diet. Add a handful of spinach, throw in some crunchy grated carrot or even have some sauerkraut on the side. You can keep a jar in the fridge which makes it super easy to add the stuff to a meal. I love it I even have it for breakfast sometimes (okay, I know it’s a bit weird).

6. Sleeping beauty

I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that sleep deprivation equates to eating more. I know from my own personal experience that I crave more. The last year or so sleep deprivation was taken to another level and reaching for sweet treats was such an easy thing to do. I’m now trying to simply get to bed earlier rather than staying up catching up on work when the baby is sleeping (easier said than done).

7. Exercise

Everyone knows that you need to move to keep in shape (I’ll tell you what I do another time). There are so many amazing ways you can incorporate a bit of exercise into your daily life.

What do you do to have a balanced diet? Would love to hear from you.



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9 thoughts on “How to diet, the Khoo way.

  1. Hi Rachel!
    Great tips! It is so important to find peace with yourself and fully accept your body. Not an easy thing to do though!
    May I just ask (please let me know if there is a post already about it) when did you move to Sweden? Do you like it? I am fascinated by all things Scandinavian and always wanted to visit so maybe you could share some thoughts with us, please?
    Btw – you do not need any dieting as you look fabulous!

    1. Hi Magda, Thanks so much for your kind comments! I’ve been living in Sweden full time for almost 2 years. I’ll be sharing a lot more about life here over the next coming months and in my next cookbook (out later this year). So stay tuned!

  2. First of all, you always look amazing and it’s good that you’ve come to peace with your beautiful self. My husband doesn’t eat meat, so it’s rare that I eat meat at home and usually save it as my treat when we go out. As I have high cholesterol, this is good for me—not for everyone, obviously. Since there’s little meat, we eat more lentils and beans and eggs for protein, which is a plus since they are also low in fat. We exercise as much as possible as well. I’d love to see more veggie dishes in your books as I’m always looking for ways to add vegetables. Take Care.

    1. Thanks Julie for the kind words. I think meat seen as a treat is a good way of approaching it. Good quality meat doesn’t come cheap and I always prefer to eat less but better quality. Note taken about veggie recipes. It’s something I’m always trying to incorporate more into my writing.

  3. I am half French so I try to keep the tips I learned growing up from my French Nana- everything in moderation and go for a walk after dinner(our biggest meal here in the United States). Love your cookbooks! Thank you for all the great inspiration!

  4. Hi Rachel
    I think you are beautiful inside and out. I am diabetic and disabled so find exercise and diet very hard. Do you have any tips please. Love Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa, Thanks for the kind words. That must be very hard. Unfortunately I’m no medical practitioner or expert in diabetes so I wouldn’t be able to give you any advice. However I do know there are lots of other people who are suffering from a similar situation. In the UK there’s a website which has lots of great resources, stories from other diabetics and further information around diabetes.

  5. Hi Rachel,

    These are great tips. I gave birth to my daughter 7 months ago, and I have been finding it hard not to give into temptation. It is especially hard sometimes to choose something healthy (instead of not-so-nutritious QUICK meal) when I’m so tired after a long day at work and waking up in the middle of the night to feed the baby. I hope to follow some of these tips and slim down to a healthier weight. It’s especially hard when watching Zumbo’s Just Desserts with my husband and he is all too willing to buy tarts.

    1. Hi Natalie, Congrats on having a baby girl! I totally understand how hard it is to go for the easier option especially when you probably haven’t had a good nights sleep for almost a year! I find simply not having the unhealthy snacks in the house helps (and making sure the husband supports you). Also doing a several meals prep in one go helps too (like at the weekend).
      For instance you could make a big batch of bolognaise sauce. Freeze a batch for another day. One serving have with wholemeal spaghetti or vegetable spaghetti (like courgetti). Another batch can be turned into a chilli con carne by throwing in a tin of mixed beans/pulses and some dried chilli flakes and ground cumin. Serve with rice or topped with on a baked sweet potato (sweet potato helps with sugar cravings). A veggie curry is another dish I make often as it freezes well. Get friendly with your freezer. It’ll mean on the days you’re too tired you can simply pull out a container. Good luck!

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