How do food critics keep from gaining weight?

By Michele Laudig

An Newsweek article that came out this week has really given me some food for thought. If your job is all about eating, how do you avoid packing on the pounds?

I remember reading Ruth Reichl's strategy a few years ago -- basically, she only has a taste of everything. Apparently it works, because in every picture I've seen of her, she looks tiny.

Unfortunately, I was raised to clean my plate and not let anything go to waste, so I have a really hard time holding back from just a bite or two of something delicious. And yes, I may have become a bit more curvaceous as a result.

But I can't say I've really gained a ton of weight from being a food critic. Who knows -- maybe I gained the weight from getting older (one's metabolism does slow down, right?), or from drinking too much.

No, I don't really consume much, if any, alcohol on my restaurant visits. It's too distracting when I'm trying to simultaneously be observant and social with my dining companions. Plus, nowadays I'm scared as shit about getting a DUI over something as stupid as a couple glasses of wine.

But at times when I'm not "on the job," I might get a meal's worth of calories from my booze. To make up for it, I might not eat anything at all (Guinness is a meal in a glass, right?).

I also make up for the fattening food in my off-time, by making a meal out of a salad or a bowl of cereal. Yep, I eat a lot of cereal, fruit, and yogurt, and I drink water constantly.

And then there's exercise -- which I sort of hate, so I trick myself into doing it for reasons other than fitness. Swimming? That's relaxation. Bike riding? Hell, the price of gas is insane. Yoga? Come on, that doesn't count as exercise. Occasionally I'll talk myself into actually doing cardio and lifting weights, though.

My friends marvel at the amount of food I order at restaurants sometimes, and I have to remind them, "You don't have to eat it all." I can eat a lot of it myself, but still, leftovers are kind of handy.

And then there's another insight: Being a food critic doesn't actually involve eating out all the time.

I go to restaurants a lot, but it's not like I'm eating a four-course meal every night -- or even every week. Far more of my time is spent in front of the computer, nibbling on cocoa-roasted almonds and drinking Diet Coke.

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