Having a doctor hand down a set of new dietary restrictions is hard enough, but figuring out how to recalibrate your cooking and shopping regimen can be even more challenging.
That’s where The Enchanted Chef comes in. As a personal chef, Ronald Lee Relyea comes to the aid of those who are recovering from illnesses and health struggles that demand dietary restrictions with which they don’t necessarily have experience.
From cancer to diabetes to obesity, from vegan to gluten-free to macrobiotic diets, Relyea offers a variety of services to clients depending on their needs. Once a week or so, he’ll visit clients at their homes and assist them with the myriad considerations that play into adjusting to a new diet, including meal preparation, menu planning, and grocery shopping. Much of Relyea’s work is educational and instructional, and he sees himself as facilitating an often-difficult transition period in his customers’ lives. “It’s all inclusive with shopping and education for them,” he said of his work, “and basically taking the burden off of trying to eat correctly while they’re trying to recover from either illness, or becoming well.”
Here are a few of Chef Relyea’s universal tips.
Avoid sugar: As pervasive as it is, it exacerbates a wide variety of ailments. “If you’re not well,” said Relyea, “whether it’s overweight, whether it’s cancer, whether it’s just unwell in general without a diagnosis — sugar feeds on that. And sugar is very addicting. If you’re in a chronic state of illness, stay away from sugar.”
Water is imperative: Not drinking enough of it hurts our bodies’ internal functions. According to Relyea, this can be especially harmful to children, who can develop allergies and other health issues without enough water. “We are chronically dehydrated,” he said.
Be mindful of where you shop: “Farmers Market first,” he said. “Shake the hand of the farmer.” These and food cooperatives have fresh, organic produce and are your best choices. Traditional, large supermarkets come at the end of the list but are often fine for the “clean 15” — produce with skin thick enough to prevent pesticides from seeping in (as opposed to the “dirty dozen,” whose skins are thin enough to necessitate them being exclusively organic).
Be balanced: From what we eat to where we shop, balance in all aspects of consumption is key.
To learn more, call (805) 248-7099 or see thumbtack.com/ca/santa-barbara/food-services/personal-chef-services.