Presentation at Catfish Row Museum will discuss overcoming food issues and poor eating habits, and how to create boundaries with food.

Recovering from an addiction typically requires a person to avoid and abstain from the object of their fixation. But what happens when you actually need it to survive? That’s one of the biggest struggles facing Southerners today, says Fit Chef founder Kevin Roberts.

“In our region, we have a massive food addiction problem,” he says. “The biggest things are the compulsive behaviors of actually consuming food, but you have to eat to live. We are brought together over food. So, it’s a never-ending battle.”

Roberts has overcome many food- and weight-related issues in his lifetime. At 19, he had half of his thyroid removed, and later endured bouts with health problems like colitis and fatty liver disease, which he pins on his weight and poor eating habits. At the time, he worked as a “Jack of all trades” chef in the restaurant business from Florida to California to Alaska.

“I had to start eating healthy, or basically I was going to die at a young age,” he says. “So I left the restaurant industry and started my own business where I was cooking healthy meals for people, and it just continued to grow from there.”

Roberts began his meal-prep service Fit Chef in 2016 with a handful of personal clients and a few dozen meals per week. Now, his company serves more than 300 breakfast, dinner, snack and dessert menu items, including keto and gluten-free options, at storefronts in Madison, Flowood and Oxford, as well as at meal pickup locations in Jackson and at the Coffee House Café in Vicksburg.

On Saturday, July 8 at 2 p.m., Roberts will present a free cooking demonstration at Catfish Row Museum as part of its 2023 Summer Cooking Series. Using a griddle, a grill, and an induction burner, he will help attendees learn how to address their own issues with food and to eat healthier without over-complicating their lives.

“A lot of people have a bad relationship with food because of the mentality of having to finish everything on your plate instead of recognizing when we actually become full, that it’s okay to stop eating,” he says. “We have to learn how to control our relationship with food.”

Part of that process includes recognizing the differences between which foods are healthy versus which are convenient. For example, a general rule of thumb to consider is that foods containing few ingredients are usually better for people to consume than those with complicated ingredient lists.

“Teaching people about the processed foods we now eat on a regular daily basis that are essentially poison to our bodies is important,” he says. “There are natural, healthier ways to eat the same things that we love.”

Attendees to his seminar can expect to learn better ways of preparing those commonly enjoyed foods and meals, such as the all-American hamburger, and ways to “reach their goals one bite at a time.

“Our entire goal is just to have people eat well and live better.”

Upcoming presentations in the series include Lana Hand on Lebanese cuisine on July 22; the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and Vicksburg National Military Park on July 29; the American Heart Association with Miss Mississippi Outstanding Teen Nataligh Nix on August 12; and celebrity chef Nick Wallace on August 19.

This series of stories on this Summer Cooking Series is produced by Lauchlin Fields Digital Media Consulting for the Catfish Row Museum.

Read the story on Kevin Roberts as it appears in The Vicksburg Post, our content partner.

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Jim Beaugez

Jim Beaugez is a Mississippi-based writer whose work has been published by Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Guitar World and other publications. He also created and produced "My Life in Five Riffs," a documentary series for Guitar Player that traces contemporary musicians back to their sources of inspiration.