How do you maintain your weight being a restaurant reviewer is a question I often get and thought I’d address it in a special blogpost.  Coincidentally, an article in New York magazine (“Platt vs.Fat”) by their restaurant reviewer Adam Platt detailed his forays into weight loss strategies ranging from trendy juice cleanses and protein powders to fasting and “slimming prisons”. The self described obese, diabetic prone Platt ended up going to a weight loss coach in (where else), New York City. The price tag? Corporate lawyer fees of $15K for ten hours.

He  chronicled his experience with Tanya Zukerbrot, who coined the F factor diet, based on low carbs, whole grain heavy diet, and a magic bullet, wheat bran crackers from Norway. She allowed him to drink alcohol, though not much, and no sugar mixed with spirits. Interestingly enough, no mention of exercise. Cut to the bottom line, after having lost 40 pounds and unwilling to go on a $6000 maintenance program, the article ends with the expectation that he’ll return to his former ways and former weight levels.

The slim and courtly Craig Claiborne,  one of the New York Times legendary restaurant critics, attributed his ability to maintain his weight to eating only half of whatever was put on his plate and weighing himself daily. Pete Wells, the restaurant critic of the New York Times, tells all in “Knives Out”,  an interview in the New Yorker. He suggests that he’s thinking he can skip alcohol without compromising his work. Says he, he can’t turn down food. “My body is not my own,” he said.

So what are my strategies? People who see I’m slim often explain it away by saying it’s my metabolism or I eat like a bird. Wrong on both counts. I eat three meals a day, thoroughly enjoy my food, and seldom feel deprived. Granted, it’s not easy, but I’ve found strategies that work.

Unlike Wells, I cannot skip the wine. It’s part of the culinary experience. The challenge is to try to stick to one, tops two glasses, and no cocktails beforehand. Or, if I have a cocktail (preferably a martini), then no wine.  That’s the plan but it doesn’t always work. Having read that George Clooney and Rande Gerber drink straight tequila (full disclosure, they own Casamigos tequila brand), and that it has the least calories of leading alcohols (64 to 69 calories), I’m trying that out.  Plus, when you ask for a shot, you usually get about an ounce of alcohol and have to ask for a second glass, so it causes you to pause and think. That being said, tequila isn’t that versatile in terms of going with different cuisines, so not sure how this,my new venture will last.

What works best for me is the Claiborne school of only eating a part of what you’re served. Of course that’s easy when you don’t like it, but when it’s delicious, it’s tough. When that’s the case I go into “mindful indulgence” mode. I’ll eat more of something if it’s WTC (worth the calories), and might even finish it, feeling little guilt. Another strategy that works is always ordering a side or sides of vegetables and filling up on those, so the starchy dishes just get enough of a taste to determine if they’re thumbs up or down. And then there’s knowing one can always ask for a “doggy bag” so the food won’t get wasted, and there’s the promise of enjoying the dish for yet another day. (a lot of psychology goes into this as you can see).

All this being said, there’s no way I could maintain my weight without exercise to burn calories. We’re talking working out 3 to 4 times a week. I go in the morning to get it over with. Anyway, I hope this is valuable in your battles of the bulge too. And love to hear your ideas on what has worked for you.

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