The NBC hit show The Biggest Loser has helped contestants lose hundreds of pounds and motivate a country in dire need of weight loss. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, including many hours of nutrition and food counseling provided by registered dietitian Cheryl Forberg.
Q: What was your role as the dietitian on The Biggest Loser?
As a member of the medical expert team, I participated in a week of screening physicals each season to help select the cast. I met with each prospective cast member to discuss their eating patterns, food preferences, weight loss/weight gain history to help me create personally tailored eating plans for each of them.
Q: I understand that you have both a culinary and nutrition background. Could you tell us about that?
Yes, I am a chef first, nutritionist second. I attended a sixteen month program in San Francisco to attain my chef diploma (formerly California Culinary Academy currently a Cordon Bleu school). I won an apprenticeship in France upon graduation and studied in restaurants in Champagne, Alsace and the Loire Valley. I returned to San Francisco to open Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio restaurant and moonlighted as a private chef to clientele, most of whom had some sort of dietary restriction — low fat, low sugar, low calorie. At the time there were few chefs with nutritional education and few dietitians with culinary training. I taught myself to adapt my classic French training to meet the needs of my clients. After several years as a private chef, I decided to legitimize what I was doing and returned to school at UC Berkeley to attain my BS in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics and become a registered dietitian.