A box of chocolates and mini éclairs in the fridge may be too tempting for some, but for Clark and her cohorts, it’s a far better indulgence than a sleeve of stale Chips Ahoy. “I will not put anything in my mouth that I do not absolutely love,” says svelte restaurateur Donatella Arpaia, who co-owns popular New York spots Mia Dona, Anthos and Kefi. She is strict about eating three meals a day and sticking to foods she grew up with, including pasta. “It was a Mediterranean diet of whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruits and olive oil,” she says. “I don’t think I had butter until college.” To keep her weight on track, Arpaia adheres to two Thin Foodie maxims: She typically orders two appetizers or one entrée when eating out, and she steps on the scale daily. She also does a vegetable- and fruit-juice cleanse every season to “get me off any addictions I might be getting to sugar or carbs.”
Although a number of foodies would rather eat their calories than imbibe them, drinking is an often inescapable part of the fine dining experience. For some, it’s also a professional obligation. David Drucker, general manager of Empire Merchants, his family’s wine and spirits distribution business (brands include Grey Goose, Cristal and Robert Mondavi), paces himself during working dinners with a one-to-one ratio in mind: For every cocktail or glass of wine, he has one glass of water.
Some Thin Foodies counter a barrage of restaurant meals and parties with a “back to basics” approach when eating at home. Kristina O’Neal, a principal at design firm AvroKO, is responsible for the look of Manhattan restaurants Quality Meats, the Stanton Social and Double Crown. Her job requires her to check out the competition on an almost nightly basis, so she offsets the caloric blow of 12-course dinners with scrambled egg whites and chicken soup the next day. “If you’re in tune with your body, it just tells you what to do,” says the size-two O’Neal. “If I’m feeling heavy, I just go lighter with all of my food and do a lot of brothy things.”
Those who are not always at one with their inner nutritionist know when to call for reinforcements. Evelyn H. Lauder, Estée Lauder’s senior corporate vice president and author of the cookbook In Great Taste: Fresh, Simple Recipes for Eating and Living Well, adores dark chocolate soufflé, so much so that she is powerless in its presence. “I take one bite and grab the waiter,” she confesses. “If I were left to my own devices, I would put the plate up to my face and lick it off.” Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, a gourmet cook and admitted Weight Watchers devotee, also loves to indulge. So he flip-flops between his own baked ziti and tarte tatin and a more strict eating plan. “I’m on fish and salad, fish and salad, fish and salad,” he says. “I’m not eating duck confit every night, which you know I could.”