“My weakness is french fries,” Paul told PEOPLE ahead of a charity dinner hosted by his non-profit, the Chris Paul Family Foundation. “Even when I don’t try to eat them, I somehow end up doing so. Even just a little while ago I was sitting here eating my salad and somebody with me had ordered french fries and I just couldn’t help myself.”
Without hesitating, Paul knows that his favorite style of the fried potato is shoestring, and the thin crunchy variety makes its way into his meals even during his strictest diets.
“I really love food,” the basketball star said. “I know what I like but I also know what I have to eat that is conducive to my lifestyle.”
That’s why before every season, Paul takes a food sensitivity test to see which foods react poorly with his system, and most of the time he’s disciplined to stay away from them.
“They take my blood and they test it against all these different foods and it tells me what foods make me more sleepy, what foods make me more tired, what foods makes my muscles tighter, or what causes more inflammation in my body.”
The North Carolina native has been using this method for several years since he began playing in the NBA, and now—even though he’s eating every three hours—he’s fueling his body with better nutrients.
“I can tell a huge difference when I’m eating what I should be,” he said.
He has found that different foods have shown up each year. This year, grapes showed up on his sensitivity scale for the first time, and over the past few years, he’s tried to stay away from corn, which has been a struggle for him.
“Corn is one my favorite foods in the whole world,” he says. “I can’t even have corn bread!”
He recently hosted a star-studded dinner where fellow athletes like Houston Texans wide receiver Deandre Hopkins, Houston Rockets power forward Carmelo Anthony, and even Paul himself, acted as servers to their guests.
“A lot of times people see the celebrity getting waited on hand and foot, so [I thought] why not switch it up for a night?” Paul said.
Even though he never had any formal serving experience growing up, Paul says no stranger to the “customer-is-always-right mentality” because of his background working at his grandfather’s gas stations all through high school.
The dinner raised money for two local Houston organizations, The Way Home — Coalition for the Homeless, which aims to prevent and end homelessness in surrounding Houston areas, and the Urban Enrichment Institute, which is designed to empower young boys to “become responsible men and productive members of their families and communities.”
“I was taught at an early age first and foremost that you do nothing alone,” Paul says. “To whom much is given much is required. Getting an opportunity to play basketball is an opportunity. It’s not a right. It’s a privilege. Basketball has been a platform [I can use to] give back and help others and hopefully one day put someone else in the position that I’m in.”