(FORTUNE Magazine) – It's strange. When you look around a fancy restaurant at lunchtime, across the vista of nattering nabobs stuffing themselves with breaded veal chops and other essential fare, washing it down with, say, a rude but flamboyant Medoc, you see very few lean, taut gazelles ready to leap lightly across the veldt. Instead there seem to be a lot of people who are too darned fat for their own good. This may have to do with the fact that we eat too much. I know I do. What with all the business breakfasts, luncheons, drinks after work, dinners, and occasional retreats with buffets as big as those on cruise ships, it's often difficult for the power player of either gender not to end up looking like a very short linebacker.

Fortunately, it is possible to keep up your serious commitment to business eating and drinking and maintain that girlish figure. It's not easy. But it's worth it. I should know. In the past ten years, while elevating alimentation into a crucial part of my strategic arsenal, I have personally lost and regained more than 2,000 pounds. More recently, I've had to clean up my act in order to remain around a tenth of a ton. So come along with me. Let common sense rule, and treat your strategic food plan as you would any other--as a series of opportunities and challenges, one meal at a time.

Breakfast, as everybody knows, is the most important meal of the day. There is, however, no need to plump up like a ballpark frank first thing in the morning. First, stay away from fruit juice. Did you know how fattening orange juice is? It's full of sugar and packed with calories you could be spending elsewhere. Grapefruit juice too. Stick to water, or possibly milk skimmed so thin you could read a newspaper through it.

At the same time, it's pretty smart to avoid drinking at breakfast. Yes, doctors tell us it's good for you to have at least one hefty pop a day (large men may have up to three or four), but do it later. These days, people expect sobriety at their morning meetings. Don't worry. It's a fad. But in the meantime, get with the program.

You'll need to stay away from just a few breakfast dishes that fill you up--and out. Most particularly inadvisable are scrambled eggs, poached eggs, omelets, shirred eggs on toast, bacon, sausage, cheese, kippers, pigs in a blanket, fried salami, steak, steak and eggs, fried plantains, corned beef hash, pancakes, and waffles. That still leaves my personal favorite of the 1990s--Special K moistened with nonfat milk substitute. With an oat-based bran muffin the size of your head, you've got yourself the fixin's of a meal that can kick the day off with a bang!

After breakfast, make sure to walk someplace, if only back to your desk. This burns off calories and builds your heart muscle. While you do so, you may indulge in one of the guilty sins of the decade. Purchase a big, fat cigar, open it, pop it in your mouth, and chew it vigorously. As long as you don't smoke it, you're taking a walk on the wild side--toward life!

During the morning hours, it's difficult, at big business meetings where the groaning board is laid with bagels, fruit, and cheese, not to munch a bit in order to stay awake. Obviously, it's better if you eat strawberry after strawberry, alternating with an occasional wedge of pineapple, a few grapes, or a plum, rather than go for real food with all that starch, fat, and flavor. Drink gallons of bottled water while you do this. It's good for you and enables you to leave the room frequently with an air of someone who has a convincing reason to do so.

Lunch is, of course, the most important meal of the day, and you want to do it justice. Having nibbled all morning, you're probably appetized to the max, and it's tough, particularly with all the stress of daily life that can be expiated by solid eating performance, not to chow down like a crazed cocker spaniel when the bowl is offered. Follow a few simple bromides, and you'll be able to eat lunch and still button your collar.

Big, greasy, rare hamburgers towering high on their warm and yielding buns are out, naturally--but you knew that! Also to be avoided are steak so tall, proud and juicy it's practically falling off the bone, hot and crispy French fries, chicken with any taste to it whatsoever, veal that's been cooked in any way other than a light poaching in clear broth, risotto, too many toast points, anything that's smoked, and of course eggs. Have a big old plateful of summer greens doused in vinegar. Go on--toss in an unbuttered baguette. And let the good times roll!

It's at cocktail time that the mettle of the serious corporate dieter is most sorely tested. For years I found it effective simply to avoid brown, green, and red drinks and their mixed counterparts, believing that clear beverages cut fat globules in the blood and raised the human metabolic rate to gratifying levels. More recently, however, it has come to my attention that both vodka and gin are sometimes fattening, especially when taken with bar nuts or pretzel-like objects. Instead of a tall, frosty, sweaty, tasty, chilly, stimulating martini, try 16 glasses of cranberry juice. Toss in a lime! It's delicious!

Next comes dinner, the most important meal of the day. There's no problem with this meal if one is at home and can simply gnaw on a head of cabbage for a couple of hours. But if you, like me, are constantly on tap for business repasts after the workday is done, you could find your waistcoat popping with the strain if you don't eat with your head, not over it. Start with a little clear broth. In smart restaurants this is called "consomme." Then let others gobble down cholesterol-besotted organ meats, pastas in heavy, flavorful sauces, fried soft-shell crabs with almonds, lamb so tender and malleable it would probably follow you home from school, and other decadent foods that lead to lardage and bad health. You want to live to see your grandchildren. So have some courage and order the halibut, as my wife does, "dry," which means cooked without butter in a pan that has been sprayed with an oleaginous substance used in crop dusting. With your fish, you can enjoy several small new potatoes, or a blob of white rice the size of a Ping-Pong ball.

If perchance your group wants to go out for what is laughingly referred to in business as a "nightcap," you can go along and have a couple. But don't go wild on beer and hard liquor. Many executives find Campari and soda with lime to be the perfect drink to keep their heads while all around them are losing theirs. After three or four, you can attain a state in which you feel as if you just woke up from a three-hour nap.

On the train home, after your long day of business eating and drinking, you may feel like cheating with a bag of chips or perhaps a double vodka with a splash of tonic, a couple of beers, and a large Italian hero with eight kinds of processed meat and cheese. That would be unfortunate. Instead, chew on your unlit cigar until you eat the damn thing and wash it down with the 16th Diet Coke of the day.

No, you can't really call it living. But then, what is, these days?

By day, Stanley Bing is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name.