78: Rocco Dispirito – How to Integrate Healthy Eating Into Your Lifestyle
“We’re basically consuming the worst kind of fuel that we can consume without replenishing any nutrients.”
– Rocco DiSpirito
Hey guys, welcome back to ONKEN RADIO, the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!
Recently when I was traveling, I watched a documentary called That Sugar Film on a plane. The film was all about how sugar affects our bodies. We all know that eating lots of sugar and over-processed foods is bad for us, but I didn’t realize how bad until I saw the film.
The new knowledge I acquired set me up perfectly for my guest today. He’s a world-renowned chef, number-one New York Times bestselling author, TV personality, and health and nutrition expert. I’m so pleased to have Rocco DiSpirito on the show because he has some fantastic tips we can all use to eat healthier without totally disrupting our everyday lives.
The amazing thing about Rocco is that he’s an enormously popular chef with a unique perspective on food. He thinks of the flavors in a meal as if they have a story arc — they have a beginning, build up to the middle, and wind down in the end. He’s been combining and recombining flavors ever since he got his first job working in a pizzeria at 11 years old. And the best part is, he wants to teach you how to cook his delicious dishes.
Rocco has recently released a new book, The Negative Calorie Diet. We talk about a lot of the information in the book in this interview, but I know you’re going to want to read this one cover-to-cover anyway. And you’re in luck because I’m going to be giving away two signed copies of the book. Just find a picture of the book online, post it to Instagram, and tag Rocco, @roccodispirito, and me, @nickonken. The first two people to enter the contest will win signed copies of The Negative Calorie Diet, so get posting!
With that, let’s get started. Rocco and I talk about a lot of great stuff today — I hope this episode inspires you to start experimenting in the kitchen!
Who Is Rocco DiSpirito?
Rocco DiSpirito is a celebrity chef and author of more than 12 books. He’s been on the New York food scene for years — and I can tell you all from experience that New York cuisine is some of the finest in the world.
But Rocco’s career, as I mentioned earlier, started when he was just 11 years old. At the time, he simply wanted to buy a KISS album. His mother flatly stated that she would not buy it for him, but he was welcome to get a job, earn money, and pay for it himself if he liked. So Rocco got a job at a local pizzeria near his home in Queens, New York City. He eventually bought the KISS album, but more importantly, he found his passion for food.
Rocco grew up to be the chef at a popular New York City eatery known as The Restaurant and the host of the NBC reality show of the same name. His passion for food and his genius-level understanding of the flavor combinations have driven him to create some of the most delicious dishes ever.
And Rocco hasn’t failed to adapt to the ever-changing tide of the discussion of nutrition, particularly here in the United States. In recent years, his passion has become teaching people to eat healthy food and lose weight without feeling deprived. He runs a very successful nutrition coaching business and sells his own line of healthy foods, including delicious shakes and protein bars.
Rocco’s most recent book, The Negative Calorie Diet, is a fantastic testament to his years of creating beautiful dishes that help his clients lose weight. We’ll dive into more detail in the interview, but the basic idea is this: There are some foods that actually cause your body to metabolize more calories than they’re worth, so you can actually lose weight by eating a diet filled with those foods. And for those of you who hate veggies or don’t know how to cook, Rocco’s book has plenty of easy-to-follow recipes you can use to get started.
I know I personally have benefited a lot from Rocco’s creations. His food is amazing and learning to cook it has improved my skills in the kitchen and helped me become a healthier, happier me. Are you ready to become a healthier, happier you?
Developing a Unique Style
One of the most inspiring things about Rocco for me is his deep love for the craft of cooking. He truly is a virtuoso chef, and he combines flavors like no one else does. When he was a student at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, Rocco developed a style all his own and truly mastered the art of cooking.
“My style happened before I knew what it was. I cooked from [my] gut. I feel like I mastered my craft enough so that I could apply my point of view to it, which is where I think a craftsman and an artist converge. So it’s like, can you take the picture? And then can you do something else with it? That’s when you go from just a guy who can press the shutter to a guy who can create art that moves people.”
– Rocco DiSpirito
How do you express yourself through your craft? Are you putting your unique point of view into your art? An artist’s specific aesthetic and voice sets their work apart, and that’s massively important for creative entrepreneurs.
But it’s also essential to pay attention to what your audience wants to see while remaining true to your voice. That’s something Rocco has always managed to do; he was developing a unique voice in cooking at the same time it became fashionable for chefs to have their own voices in their cooking.
“We weren’t just cooking French food or Italian food or Latin food. We were cooking our food, and each of us developed our own signature style. And that happened at the same time people became interested in chefs’ signature style.”
– Rocco DiSpirito
So, it’s unsurprising that Rocco has found a way once again to keep up with the current trend toward healthy eating while remaining true to his voice. His health food products and the recipes found in The Negative Calorie Diet still feel like Rocco DiSpirito originals — they’re just crafted to help people lose weight and get healthier.
How are you developing your unique voice through your craft? How are you alchemizing your medium, talent, and current trends to create art that is truly beautiful and also truly your own? Having that perspective that an audience can identify with your name and fully trust will set you apart as a creative, and it’s essential if you’re going to make a living with your art.
Make Healthy Your New Normal
Let’s talk about Rocco’s new food. With the current trend toward healthy eating, Rocco has delivered some truly delicious recipes. But here’s the thing: Healthy eating is not always easy, even when we have the option to eat delicious and beautifully crafted foods like Rocco’s. And why is that? According to Rocco, it’s because the sugar that is so abundant in our diet is actually addictive, just like drugs.
“Our food system is set up to slowly poison us over our lifetime. … All of the processed foods that [are] out there, the majority of what people eat, [are] calorie-dense and they’re empty calories. … So we’re basically consuming the worst kind of fuel that we can consume without replenishing any nutrients. … And so I guess it would be like if you smoke crack, you’ll feel energy, right? … But if you ate a lot of whole grain, you’d have energy as well, but you wouldn’t be killing yourself at the same time.”
– Rocco DiSpirito
It’s true. Sugary, over-processed foods are so bad for us. They’re addictive because they taste so good, and they give our bodies an initial burst of energy. But they also give us tons of calories that turn into fat when we don’t work them off — and there’s no way we could exercise off that many calories.
But there’s good news: Rocco says that we can choose to end our addiction and start eating healthy foods that are just as delicious.
“You have to first realize you’re addicted to sugar. You have to go from eating unconsciously, which is just eating what’s in front of you, to making choices consciously. … And then you exercise something called impulse control, and you say, ‘No, I’ve had enough.’ … You need to change your life and make healthy your new normal …”
– Rocco DiSpirito
It takes 21 days to develop a new habit, but Rocco believes that you can break your sugar addiction in just three days. The key is to do it cold turkey — if you cut out sugar altogether, your body will naturally detox. From there, you’re on a path to becoming the healthier, happier you that I talked about earlier.
How The Negative Calorie Diet Works
“So how can Rocco’s new diet help me lose weight?” you may be wondering. The whole thing revolves around foods that Rocco refers to as “negative calorie foods.”
“So what makes a food a negative calorie food?… There are foods that … increase your body heat. And that is a result of increasing your metabolic rate … A negative calorie food is a food that contains less calories than your body burns, metabolizing them after you’ve consumed them.”
– Rocco DiSpirito
An excellent example of a negative calorie food is broccoli. When you eat broccoli, your body gets good energy, and it starts to burn calories faster than you’re actually eating them. What does that mean? It means you can eat as much broccoli as you want without actually gaining weight.
“So the more you eat, the more you lose when it comes to negative calorie foods. … You should always eat so that you’d never feel hungry. And if you’re eating the right foods, you’ll never gain weight.”
– Rocco DiSpirito
Rocco says that you can actually eat unlimited amounts of negative calorie foods. Since they’ll only cause you to continue burning more calories than you’re consuming, you can eat as many of them as you want and still lose weight.
That’s how Rocco’s diet works. He’s created incredible recipes based around these negative calorie foods, so you can eat until you’re full and satisfied without worrying about gaining weight. That’s how The Negative Calorie Diet helps people become healthier — they get to eat a lot of delicious food and still lose weight in the process.
Beyond that, according to Rocco, weight loss comes down to drinking a lot more water and increasing your activity. And that doesn’t have to mean going to the gym every day — in fact, Rocco says that going to the gym isn’t all that helpful because most people actually over-reward themselves for the work they do in the gym. Instead, he says the key is to add a little more activity into your everyday life. Take a walk every day, go dancing, or jog around your neighborhood if you enjoy that. The important thing is that you’re eating healthy, and Rocco’s book The Negative Calorie Diet can teach you how to do it.
Be a Creative Alchemist with Rocco DiSpirito
Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.
With that being said, I define Creative Alchemy as using the process of creativity to create a lens of which to perform alchemy. These principles not only apply to artists and creatives in their own creative processes, but to anyone who wants to create an extraordinary life in color for themselves. I’ve found that 80% of creating is alchemizing the thoughts, emotions, and other inner blocks that keep you from putting the pen to the paper. Navigating to the act of creation takes alchemical processes, and Rocco DiSpirito is doing it with flavors!
Rocco DiSpirito’s diet program works because it leaves people feeling satisfied — it’s much easier to commit to healthy eating when you get to eat a lot of good food. That’s pretty inspiring work. But even more than that, Rocco DiSpirito is inspiring to me personally as an artist. He has dedicated his life and career to doing what he loves and using it to help people get healthy.
Rocco defines “live inspiration” as “finding what [inspires] you … and through that process, inspiring those around you by example.” I genuinely believe that Rocco is living up to that definition, and I want to acknowledge him for the difference he’s making in the world. He’s helping so many people — myself included — become healthier and happier.
Thank you so much for joining me today, guys. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview, and I hope you did too. If you did, I’d love it if you could leave me a review on Apple Podcasts. And please share the episode on Instagram and tag Rocco, @roccodispirito, and me, @nickonken.
Also, don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of Rocco’s new book, The Negative Calorie Diet. Post a picture of the book to Instagram and tag @roccodispirito and @nickonken to enter. I’ll send books to the first two people who post.
Finally, if you’re interested in connecting more with Rocco, definitely give him a follow on Twitter and a like on Facebook. And if you’re interested in any of his products, you can find them on his website here.
Thanks again for joining me today! Until next time, keep living inspiration, keep creating, and keep striving to become happier and healthier.
I’ll catch you later —
“I really hope to be able to at some point provide healthy and delicious food that’s available and affordable to just about everyone.”
– Rocco DiSpirito
Some things we learn in this podcast:
- How he got his first job cooking [5:50]
- His favorite part of the restaurant industry [8:20]
- The limitless nature of food [10:20]
- How he expanded his world view and got on TV [14:10]
- Why he had do decide between marketing his product or creating his product [18:40]
- Defining his style [20:20]
- Why NYC customers are so great [22:20]
- What his point of view is in terms of flavor [26:40]
- The danger of our current food system [29:35]
- How you can decide to make changes in your diet [32:05]
- What happens when people don’t value themselves [42:25]
- Why making the decision to get healthy is the hardest part [46:40]
- The challenge of changing your habits and quitting sugar [49:10]
- What his new book is all about [53:50]
- What makes a negative-calorie food [57:55]
- Three tips from his new book you can incorporate into your life [1:02:50]
- The difference between health and vanity [1:08:00]
- Check out The Negative Calorie Diet
- Interested in the premier cooking school? Check out the Culinary Institute of America
- Take a look at the Helmut Newton book
- Get a copy of Rocco’s first book, Flavor
- Listen to my interview with Stacy London
- Watch That Sugar Film
- Learn more about Pencils of Promise
- Music Credit: Affection by COPYCATT