Exclusive Interview with Graham Elliot, One Year After VSG

July 1, 2014

Every day community members are celebrating and reflecting back on their 1st year after having weight loss surgery. Together, as a community, we can relate to each others' amazing milestones, WOW moments, non-scale victories, life and relationship changes, mental and physical transformations, and improvements in health. Today, we bring you an exclusive interview with Graham Elliot to celebrate and reflect back on some of his one year moments and changes after having Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) in July 2013.

Congratulations on your amazing success! You’re coming up on your one year surgery anniversary. As you reflect back on the decision to have surgery, the day of surgery, and all of the in-between days of losing 150 pounds in a year, how do you feel about the decision and progress you've made thus far? And what are you most looking forward to now?

I can't believe how monumental the transformation has been and how quickly it came! I expected to lose weight and get in shape sometime over the course of 18 months based on what I'd read and heard. To lose close to 150 pounds in 8 months was something I didn't think possible. In that short amount of time, I've found myself able to tie my shoes without holding my breath, running up stairs without passing out, flying without a seat belt extender, getting in and out of the car without a sore back. All of these things add up, and when paired with the ability to play with my kids and feel my wife wrap her arms around me when we hug, it's the greatest feeling in this huge world! The only regret I have is that I didn't do the surgery sooner.

We've been following your running accomplishments and are so inspired to see you training and pushing through to your goals, from a 5k to a 10k and now on to the Chicago Marathon in October. How does this feel physically and mentally compared to where you were a year ago?

It's hard to explain but I literally feel like a different person. Not just physically or emotionally. When I see pictures of my "former" self it's as if it's another person, almost a character. Now I'm the real me, someone that gets to enjoy life to its fullest. Running is awesome, especially with my wife, Allie. So is swimming, and playing baseball and soccer with my boys, and working on the hotline in my restaurant (where I used to have trouble fitting).

Pre and Post surgery cooking and nutrition can be vastly different. What would you say have been your biggest changes? Biggest challenges?

The biggest change is that I see food differently, more as a fuel than a stress reliever and a thing that comforts me. The biggest challenge has been to know when to eat and when to drink; you can't do both at the same time. Also, you have certain habits that you need to mentally break, like eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than a large amount right before bed (as I did previously).

We're loving the new season of MasterChef! During MasterChef, you taste all sorts of dishes. How is this different for you now as a Sleeve post-op than it was before your surgery?

I spoke with my surgeon (and now friend) Dr. Prachand and he recommended I go with the VSG. It allows me to still taste and try everything (without the fear of "dumping"), but just in smaller amounts. I will admit that when I have to try things such as baked goods, cakes, desserts and so forth, I get full rather quickly. But, I'm happy to report that I haven't had any issues with being overstuffed 🙂

In our community many people struggle with how to deal with social situations and celebrations, where food has always been such an integral part of the bonding experience. As a chef with a gastric sleeve, do you have any tips on how to handle food-centric situations?

For me it's just owning the situation; I made the choices to get me to where I am/was weight wise, and I decided to have this procedure to take back control of my life. I find that if you come right out and say that then people are supportive and understanding, and that takes away a lot of the sadness/frustration of not being able to partake in what others are eating.

Let's talk music! We'd love to know if you work-out or train to music? If so, what's currently on your must listen to playlist?

Music is one of the most important things in my life, so I absolutely rock out when I'm running/training. I love Michael Jackson, Prince, James Brown, Guns n' Roses, The Killers, Hot Water Music and Girl Talk among others.

Since you're now a runner! If you were to do a "Fun Run", which fun run would you most like to do? The Color Run (Color Extravaganza!), Run for Your Lives (Zombies!), Warrior Dash (Get Muddy!), The Turkey Trot (Gobble Gobble!), or Disney Run (Kid at Heart!)?

Wow I haven't heard of most of those but my family loves any and all things Disney so gotta go with that. I really wanna do the Kona Iron Man Triathlon (both Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich of Masterchef have conquered this). I've told myself I can do it when I'm 40 so I have 3+ years to train.

We're so honored to have you as Keynote, and part of the ObesityHelp community. Your participation and support is appreciated! ObesityHelp.com and our annual conference focuses on the importance of having a support system for the long haul of the weight loss surgery journey, whether that be friends, family, co-workers, online support, doctors and/or allied health professionals. Who have been your biggest supporters?

For sure my wife, Allie, who acted as my nurse after the surgery and has changed how we eat at home ever since. My dad, John, who was a huge supporter leading up to the surgery (and after of course), Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich who I work with on Masterchef, and my surgeon, Dr. Prachand.

And our last question for today, we'll save the rest for the Conference! Do you have any new projects in the works that we should be looking out for?

I am actually working on my first cookbook which will focus on yummy food that you can make at home. A health focused cookbook will hopefully come out after that. I'm also working on a culinary game show so keep an eye out for that as well.

graham elliot


Graham Elliot, is a critically acclaimed chef, television personality, and one of the most recognized faces cooking in America today. He is the two Michelin starred chef and owner of Graham Elliot Bistro and Primary Food & Drink. Graham is a judge on FOX’s MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, and the Culinary Director of the Lollapalooza music festival.