The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2017

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40  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2017 WHERE WE'RE EATING U sually this column is about "Where We're Eating," but this month, it's about "What We're Eating"—though it could also be titled, "How I Lost 50 Pounds While Continuing to Eat for a Living." I attended a wedding about a year ago, and when I was sent a photo of myself and my wife, I was taken aback by how bloated I looked. I had also gone for my annual physical, where I wasn't happy with my numbers. Since both my parents were diabetic and died of heart disease, I knew I had to do something. Now, I eat and drink for a living, and I wasn't about to give up those singular pleasures. I began reading about current thinking concerning diets—a dense jungle of theories and crackpot ideas, but surprisingly, not much talk of exercise. Most strate- gies seem to boil down to "get off the couch," but the consensus, as much as there is one, is that about 80 percent of weight loss comes from diet. So, I take my morning walk and evening walk. I take the stairs as often as I can. I don't use valet parkers. But mostly, I watch what I put in my mouth. Certain foods had to be relegated to fond but distant memory; I largely avoid meat, and I now have a closer relationship with salads than I do with many of my relatives. When a typically-oversized entrée arrives, I divide it in half and take it home. I'm very careful with my sugar consumption, but not so careful that I'm ruining my life, and when it comes to alcohol, my excess is in moderation. What I drink is dry and, as a rule, The Good Stuff. If there's a proper bottle of Burgundy on a shelf, I'll risk my credit card limit for the serious pleasure. One day, after some six months of living with sashimi as my "cheat" food, I stepped on the scale— and had dropped one quarter of my bulk. People who saw me on the street would ask, with a tad of trepidation, if I had lost weight—and then if I was okay. (The default for so many of us is, "They lost weight? Must be dying.") There is, of course, a "downside" to weight loss: I've had to spend a small fortune on new clothing, and while the cost has been considerable, the plea- sure has been even greater. But I'm not getting rid of any of my old clothing; I figure I'm just a 15-course Chinese seafood banquet away from returning to my old girth. I've read that fat cells like to be fat, but what can I say: Let them eat ahi! Above, Merrill Shindler, having recently lost a quarter of his weight, now embraces a new, healthier lifestyle. At right, a "before" picture of Shindler, who was determined to find a way to lose weight and eat his cake, too (albeit in smaller, less frequent portions). Everything in Moderation A FOOD WRITER, AGAINST ALL ODDS, DROPS 50 POUNDS by Merrill Shindler

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