This Is What Former Townsman Chef Matt Jennings Eats for Breakfast
The five-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist, and former owner of Townsman, shares his nutrition hacks for healthy eating.
Claim to Fame:
Matt Jennings is no stranger to the kitchen. He’s a five-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist, has been featured in national and international publications, and has made appearances on the Food Network. He wrote the book Home Grown, and has owned two restaurants: Farmstead in Providence, and Townsman right here in Boston, before taking a step back to reevaluate what he was doing. In a recent Wall Street Journal profile, he explained the dire health situation he was facing a few years ago. Weighing 400 pounds and suffering from sleep apnea and high cholesterol, Jennings faced a scary ultimatum from his doctor: Change or die. Opting for the former, he spent two years reevaluating his diet and lifestyle habits, and had gastric sleeve surgery in 2016. While it may not be easy to give up calorie-heavy restaurant food for the gym and fresh veggies, it is totally worth it.
Jennings is now 200 pounds lighter, an avid gym-goer at EverybodyFights, and has found a true love for cycling. Although he’s not in the restaurant biz anymore, he hasn’t abandoned his love of cooking and serving others. He is a Certified Workplace Wellness Coach and owns Full Heart Hospitality, a food, beverage, and hospitality consultancy group, helping companies small and large implement healthier initiatives for their employees.
What He Ate:
Typically Jennings fasts in the morning, which he says certainly isn’t for everyone, but has worked for him. So his breakfast, or first meal of the day, isn’t until 11 a.m., and can vary from savory to sweet and sometimes looks a little more like lunch. He says his typical breakfast go-tos include steel-cut oatmeal, scrambled eggs and avocado, or protein oatmeal pancakes. And he doesn’t do cereal except for the occasional all-natural granola. “I think more people should try adding veggies to their breakfast,” he says. In the winter, he loves steaming bowls of broth with a dropped egg and some grains, and he’s a big fan of braised beta greens.
Why He Ate It:
“Nutrition has become very important to me,” Jennings says. ” I have completely changed my diet. The biggest change has been eliminating processed sugar and highly refined carbohydrates. I have also been sober for almost three years, which has been the single best change in my life for numerous reasons, both health and personal.”
He explains that he mostly sticks to a plant-based diet, but always loves a perfectly good cooked piece of meat or fish. He does make a point of only eating those foods once every few weeks. And after realizing his body does better with less dairy, he now reserves the “decadent dairy and runny cheeses for ‘celebratory’ moments.”
If you’re struggling with weight loss, Jennings recommends starting small. “I would suggest trying to focus on smaller portions. I don’t count calories, but I do keep a journal of what I eat. I find that to be very helpful.”
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#TBT. . . Grateful is right. Two and a half years ago after a health scare, I started working on myself. 25 years of stress from this industry that I adore, had compounded and left me with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, partially blocked arteries, a lack of energy, sleep apnea, CAA or chronic acute anxiety, low self-esteem and a deep feeling of powerlessness and helplessness. I hid it all from my family and my team. I internalized, and the paralysis got worse. Today I am a different human. I’m down 200 pounds (395 to 195), I’ve embraced sobriety, I eat well, exercise daily, and practice meditation and many eastern philosophies. I am by no means perfect. I have never claimed to be. But I’m striving towards being a better man, husband, father and professional every day. I’m building a new company, I’m focusing more of my energy on spending time with my family, I’m seeing life with a clearer and more focused and more positive view- and I have realized that TIME is my currency, and so I strive to find improved ways at how to spend my time, working to be a better version of myself, every day. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and yet still so hungry for all that is to come. I wake up everyday and push doubt out of my way. Engineering a new mind is as crucial as engineering a new body. The process of self-discovery is endless and unfolding. I am so grateful to be able to chase the thrill of a life well-lived. 🙏🏼 . . My point? You can do it. I am so inspired by so many of you who reach out to me and seek advice, who are also working on yourselves. Don’t give up! The take away is simple: CAN YOU BE BETTER? We all can. Take the small steps now, so that you can jump in leaps and bounds, later. I’m behind you. I’m watching. And I’ll be cheering you from the sidelines. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Now, GO. What are you waiting for? . . . #throwbackthursday #selfcare #selflove #believe #pushyourself #getuncomfortable #pma #positivityisaprocess #stayup #staymotivated #wellness #healthylifestyle #healthyliving #sober #sobrietyrocks #weightlossjourney #mindfullness #secondchance #nobodylikesaquitter #nevergiveup