Celebrity chef Charles Mattocks (also known as "The Poor Chef") is on a mission to help educate people about how to eat healthy on a budget.
In an exclusive interview, Chef Mattocks — the nephew of the legendary Bob Marley — revealed how he manages his type 2 diabetes, enjoyed rapid weight loss, and eats like a king without overspending.
Chef Mattocks, author of the bestseller Eat Well But Cheap, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes several years ago. That led the 40-something single dad to dramatically overhaul his diet and embrace daily workouts.
Now fitter than ever, Mattocks — who has appeared on the "Dr. Oz Show," "Anderson Cooper," and the "Today Show" — has become a health advocate who wants to help stamp out obesity and debunk the myth that eating well has to cost a fortune.
Question: Many people think healthy eating is expensive. You've proven otherwise with your three books. What are some tips for eating well on a budget?
Make a plan for your grocery shopping, just as you would for anything else. If you plan your meals for the week, you know what you need and you won't waste time walking around the supermarket trying to figure out what to grab. That's why most people go to the grocery store wanting to spend a few dollars and end up spending twice what they came in to spend. Have a plan and stick to it.
Buying fresh fruits and veggies and eating smaller portions can stretch your budget and allow you to eat very well. I have three books now: a children's book on diabetes (Diabetes and Healthy Eating) and two cookbooks.
I have a new cookbook coming out in June from the American Diabetes Association (The Budget-Friendly Fresh and Local Diabetes Cookbook) that I'm very excited about because it talks about this same subject and we utilize fresh markets and local vendors where people can take $20 dollars and get twice as much food as they would if they went to a local supermarket."
Question: I'm impressed that you're managing your type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise. What's a typical daily menu for you?
For breakfast I may do a protein shake or a boiled egg. I try and keep it very simple but give my body something to work with. Lunch I would normally do a salad, and for dinner I'm also very basic. I don't eat much meat but I may have a piece of baked chicken and some sort of salad or vegetable.
I would say I am 99% vegetarian, but every few months I feel the need to grab a good piece of lean meat. Reducing meat and other lifestyle changes is what has allowed me to keep a raw diet going. I would love to say I was on a raw-food diet as it sounds great, but I can't do my meat eaters wrong, as I love a great piece of chicken or steak."
Question: Do you have any advice for other type 2 diabetics who want to manage their diabetes through lifestyle changes?
Get very serious and stop making any excuses. It's funny because I just met a type 2 yesterday. He showed me his pills and I asked him what his numbers were, but he had no idea, and has no idea what an A1C1 is, so this man is not on a good course. He got no information from the doctor and does not have a clue what to eat or how to change his diet. I see this all the time and millions like him will walk away with medications and no plan.
But we have got to understand that we are the keys to our health. If we don't change then we can't expect anyone to help us. So the first step is to look into that mirror and say, 'Today it all changes.' Start with your inside and make your way to the outside."
Question: You look great after losing 20 pounds (very Terrence Howard-esque!). What are your top weight loss tips?
My keys were to start walking, then running. After that, I made all the other diet changes. I went on a raw-food diet and only drank water. I knew I needed to lose a few pounds. Most of it was because I was lifting a lot of weights but never did cardio, and I think a lot of us do that. We see those guys in the gym all the time with the big guts and big arms and chest and they don't do any cardio. I'm not saying that was me, but I was getting there if I kept up what I was doing.
So the keys to successful weight loss are a total dietary change and plenty of exercise. Try walking, running or biking. Stick with low carbs and no breads or sugar. I suggest staying away from diet sodas and juice as well. They have tons of calories and lots of sugar. Getting enough sleep is also key, and minimize stress."
For more weight loss, budget-eating, and diabetes management tips, follow Chef Mattocks on Twitter at @thepoorchef1 and check out all his incredible books: