Chef Carla Hall’s Approach to Mindful Eating Includes ‘Hamburger Time’

A food-world fixture since debuting on Top Chef in 2008 and making it all the way to the final three, Chef Carla Hall been pretty busy ever since. Between returning for Top Chef: All-Stars, opening (and subsequently closing) a restaurant in Brooklyn, writing several cookbooks and earning a co-host spot on ABC’s The Chew, Hall relishes every opportunity to spread her joyous philosophy on comfort food, health-conscious eating habits, and exploring culture through a culinary lens.


Observer caught up with Hall to chat about her theory of mindfulness and her best practices for maintaining a thoughtful attitude toward food, long after the New Year’s Resolution season fades.

How has mindfulness manifested itself in your culinary career?

I came into the culinary world, and shortly thereafter, I developed an interest in spirituality. So the two really came together for me. I’ve always believed that there are no mistakes in the universe and in living my truth. The older I got—and definitely during my time on Top Chef—I placed more and more importance on making the types of food that felt good to me. It took a minute, and more than a few episodes of Top Chef, but I felt so much more comfortable and happier cooking dishes that felt connected to my story and my body’s needs.

Now, what does mindfulness mean to you?

For me, mindfulness is about being honest with yourself, and about being your own advocate. After a certain point, I started to think to myself: “When I eat this, I don’t feel good. Why don’t I feel good?” You really have to pay attention to your body. Slowing down, thinking about my food and taking my time to enjoy—it’s all mindfulness. At its core, food mindfulness is about what you’re eating, how you’re eating, and why you’re eating.

For instance, when I feel exhausted and down and I want to treat myself, I reach for sugar. But instead of impulsively grabbing some sweets, I make myself consider: “When and why am I eating these things?” I’m also becoming more aware of my own food sensitivities and how to work with them by paying attention to how my body feels.

For example, I have this thing called “hamburger time.” I love hamburgers, but the older I get, the more I realize I can’t eat them at any time. In a perfect world, I’d go out with friends for a movie and then would go out for a hamburger late at night. But this doesn’t feel good to me anymore. So now, “hamburger time” happens at around 1 p.m. for weekend lunch.

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