Truc | South China Morning Post
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Truc

Susan Jung

 

For the first time in my life, I've been thinking about dieting. Please note I said "thinking about"; I haven't changed my eating habits yet, because I'm hopeful that this weight gain is temporary, and that if I think positive thoughts the extra kilos will magically melt away as they have in the past.

My weight gain of about 3kg is minor compared with many other people's, and I'm still within the recommended body mass index for an Asian female. But this is the heaviest I've ever been, and the fact that my clothes don't fit as loosely as I'd like is bothering me. My diet plan, which I'm still hoping I will not have to implement, involves eating more vegetables and grains (which is something I should be doing anyway) and less fat. So far, so predictable.

The part of this weight-loss plan I'm actually looking forward to, but which I doubt I'll be able to stick to given the time it involves, is not something I've seen in any diet book: it's to cook more. Back in the days when I was a pastry chef, we often had visitors to our kitchens who watched us making cakes, tarts, chocolates, ice creams and pastries, and would ask us how we remained thin when we made such fattening products. They said that if they were in our shoes, they'd be eating the desserts constantly. Well, although we nibbled throughout the day - mostly so we could taste the products to make sure the flavours were correct, my colleagues and I were never tempted to actually eat a whole slice of a cake or tart.

My husband has observed that when I spend the whole day cooking dinner (which is what I like to do on Sundays), I'm never hungry when it comes to sitting down and eating. I mentioned this to a doctor friend whose expertise is in the science of pleasure, and told him about my experiences of not being hungry for pastries when I was a pastry chef. He said that because my sense of smell had been satiated by the long exposure to the food as I was cooking it, it somehow suppressed my appetite. My body was tricked into thinking my stomach was full because of olfactory oversaturation; our sense of smell is inextricably linked with our sense of taste.

Because it would be difficult for me to spend every day in the kitchen preparing elaborate meals that I'm not going to eat, I suppose it would be just as effective if I quickly cooked something delicious, then let it sit at the side of my computer so I could smell it - but not touch it - as I worked. But food that's cooked and ready to eat is not nearly as easy to resist as food that takes hours to prepare, all the while sending its enticing scents to suppress my hunger. Until I can find the time to cook more, I'll have to diet this way once a week and stick to more standard forms of losing weight the rest of the time.

 

Truc (tryk): noun, masculine, trick, gimmick, device. A French word for a chef's secret.

 

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