Chef Loses 200 Lbs. After Undergoing Surgery and Changing His Diet: 'I Had to Get Healthy'

Matt Jennings knew he needed to make a change in his diet when he tipped the scales at 400 lbs.

The 42-year-old Massachusetts-based chef behind Full Heart Hospitality — a culinary consulting agency — tells TODAY Food he went to the doctor in 2016 and was diagnosed with high cholesterol and acute anxiety disorder. He also showed signs of pre-diabetes.

“Exactly three years ago, my doctor gave me the option to live or die,” he says. “What a lot of people don’t understand is that food can be an addiction. Like any good addict, I had my gutter moment. I walked home and into my kitchen and told my wife, it’s time to change my life. I had to get healthy for myself, my wife and my kids.”

Jennings, who recently closed his Boston restaurant, Townsman, to focus on his hospitality group, says working in the fast-paced business caused him to lose track of how many calories he was eating.

To jumpstart his weight loss, Jennings underwent a sleeve gastrectomy in 2016. He slowly started working out and divvied up his diet into four or five small meals throughout the day.

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“These days, I’m focusing on eating lean proteins, very vegetable heavy, grains. I like balance, I like flavor and I like simplicity,” says Jennings, who has lost a total of 200 lbs.

“Once you’ve decided wellness — most importantly feeling healthy — is of central importance in your life, then and only then will you make progress in physically changing your life,” Jennings says. “When I look back at photos of the past … I see someone who didn’t even have the chance to pick his head up from the work he was doing to recognize the ability he had within himself to save his own life.”

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