‘I cracked the code for shifting that extra stone that most Irish men carry around’
Daily Diet: Mario Rosenstock (48) comedian and presenter of Gift Grub on Today FM on shedding weight
Mario Rosenstock: Finding some sort of balance in your life sounds so boring and mundane and actually, it’s extremely hard to do but if you find it, you realise it’s magical. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times
5.45am I’m up and running on adrenaline and don’t eat or drink until after my radio sketch.
8.15am I’ll have a massive bowl of fruit and greek yoghurt with black coffee. This is my new breakfast since I changed my eating habits in July and cracked the code for shifting that extra stone that most Irish men carry around.
In the old days I tucked into bacon, eggs and rye toast. I was doing weight training, tennis and walking but could not lose the weight that was sitting uncomfortably on me. I tried different avenues, like calorie control, that worked initially, but nothing lasted. I was in a funk and once even gave up alcohol for six weeks and not a pound came off.
In the end the answer was sitting in plain sight of me. This was my wife, Blathnaid, and her mindset of focusing on veg, salads and fruits to such an extent that unhealthy foods are crowded out. In the four months since I started to take her advice my weight has gone from 14 stone 7 down to 13 stone 8 pounds. My vanity weight would be 13 stone 2 pounds but I’m happy enough.
1pm Now I embrace salads. And I am talking tasty, substantial ones. This is usually my variation of the salade niçoise with good balsamic dressing, tuna, egg, green beans, tomatoes, lettuce and avo. I’ll have a black coffee and feel satiated. In the bad old days I would have launched into a big sandwich with chicken and mayo. This was never enough and I found myself in the slippery routine of supplementing with a packet of crisps. The trick to make the salad satisfying is to add extra of whatever it is you like - I love red onion so always request extra in the cafe where I eat my lunch.
4pm I get home and grab a few oranges off our massive fruit bowl.
5pm We like to eat early with the kids and often have a big piece of fish - cod or salmon - with veg and baked potato, or once a week roast chicken. Other days it’s meatballs and wholewheat spaghetti, or lentil burgers. Always homemade by Blanath and always with lots of veg and salads.
8pm One thing I have learned with eating is that if you don’t plan, you plan to fail; in the evening I get hungry and previously would have lashed into the cheese and tuc crackers with hot chocolate. Instead Blathnaid makes a batch of healthy flapjacks every week and I allow myself one with a peppermint tea. The herbal tea is a recent adoption of mine and I love it. If I set this limit I don’t panic when I get peckish as I know if I stick to my snack I am on course. You have to remain flexible though and if at a relative’s house I am handed a plate of lasagna and potato salad, followed by cheesecake, I will eat every scrap. We go out for dinner once a week and then all bets are off.
9.30pm We are in bed early, but I’m no paragon of virtue, and am up later at weekends. I enjoy two pints of lager as much as the next man and have not given up alcohol. Another reason why I think this new approach works is that my digestive system gets a break every day for quite a stretch; between the hours of 6pm and lunchtime I only have the flapjack and fruit and yoghurt - all easy to digest.
My mantra has always been if you apply yourself and work hard, then reward yourself and your self esteem, and throw yourself a party. I’m still rewarding myself but have reorientated my eating so that if almost all of my meals in the week are healthy there is less space for the party throwing crisps. I don’t call it a diet, there will be no rails to fall off at Christmas, it’s my new approach to eating.
Finding some sort of balance in your life sounds so boring and mundane and actually, it’s extremely hard to do but if you find it, you realise it’s magical. I’m fresher, in better form and more giving. I’m getting geared up for my nationwide show to celebrate 20 years of Gift Grub and I’m excited I can now slip into size 14 Miriam O’Callaghan dresses.
– in conversation with Mary McCarthy
by dietitian, Conor Kerley
Mario has a plan of meals each day but is not rigid. He is smart to view his new way of eating as a new mindset – the minute you say you are on a diet there is an expected expiry date. He mentions that all the exercise he did made no difference, people often get a skewed approach to eating if they exercise a lot but you can never outrun a bad diet.
What with all the information, misinformation and confusion we are all bombarded with, the clear lesson here is: focus on real food with fruit/veg/salad at all meals and allow flexibility for living life. Bravo Mario ... and I’m sure he looks lovely in his MOC dresses.