Eat like a Business Executive
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – It's that time of year again, when the tables that groan under their own weight are not just actuarial. Many of us enter this season as lean as Dick Grasso and waddle out the other end as plump as his payout.

It doesn't have to be that way. There are things you can do to manage the challenge between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day and have a good time too. The key, I have found, is to pattern your habits after the business entities that guide our lives in so many other ways.

To begin, I make it a policy to eat like Bill Gates and his team at Microsoft, planning each meal carefully, using mostly other people's ideas, laying out portions with an eye to what my body will need not only at the moment but also in the future. I take in plenty of meat, as raw as I can tolerate it, but don't stint on all the other good things that feed my operating system so that I may impose it on others. I eat very quickly, frightening other people as I fill up as fast as possible, gobbling and munching until the sensation of fullness is overwhelming, then pushing away from the table and fleeing to another room, where I immediately begin strenuously figuring out my next meal, an activity that burns off calories and churns personnel at an alarming rate.

There are limits to this strategy. To make it work, under no circumstances can one sleep, since the constant inhalation of calories would certainly turn my entire body to fat in no time. I also show a disconcerting tendency, when my rightful portion is gone, to reach around and feed myself from other people's plates, grabbing their victuals and muscling them away from their positions at the table. I've noticed afterward that nobody wants to eat with me, and in years past several former dining companions and regulators have gone after me with sharp implements, a way of losing weight that is extreme, painful, and possibly permanent.

I therefore alternate this approach with some others.

Between displays of gluttony, for instance, I take a tip from the SEC and eliminate all starch. That makes me extremely droopy much of the time.

I breakfast like Harvey Weinstein, knowing that it's the early bird who can enjoy plenty of worms; dine like Barry Diller, sampling elegant, sumptuous, but extremely disciplined morsels all over town, burning off any weight as I sweep up and down the avenues, my earplug and tiny microphone cellularly blazing; and I sup like Dick Parsons, thankful for the slightest crumb of good news.

I end each meal like Warren Buffett, with a very small share of sweetness so rich and densely packed that even two would be beyond my means. It takes years to prepare such a dessert, and it is achieved after a lifetime of mysterious maneuvers. It's tasty, though, particularly for those who acquired their portion when the world was young.

And of course, like many executives in virtually every industry, I exercise religiously. My options, I mean. It isn't as much fun as it was in years past--I'll be honest with you. In fact, recently this portion of my effort has given new meaning to the words "no pain, no gain," except for the "no pain" part.

Naturally there are methods of controlling holiday madness that should be avoided, like the Fastow-Ebbers Diet, in which sleek, hungry operatives attempt to steal food from the mouths of babes. The good news is that those who practiced that one are choking on it right now, albeit not badly enough by half.

Even less appealing solutions abound. Some people emulate Martha Stewart and immerse themselves in hot water. Others follow the former chefs at Arthur Andersen, cooking and spinning until they disappear in a cloud of shame. Of shocking popularity is the old Roman practice of bulimia, which is mostly found this festive season among Wall Street analysts who advised people how to invest in the booming '90s. Perhaps it's easy for those people to make themselves sick.

For those who don't have that advantage comes the astonishing Kozlowski Diet, in which the sight of someone else's greedy eating and drinking makes everyone else around him throw up. Effective? Sure. Fun? Only on Sardinia.

In the end, as in all business matters, consistent moderation is probably the best course. Better to show some modicum of control now than to end up in the new year trying to divest that eight or so pounds of ugly fat the way so many before have been forced to do in this cruel, mercantile world: by cutting off my head and grafting on another provided to me by a headhunter.

Look at that. I've come this far without even mentioning drinking. Perhaps we'll talk about that next time, okay?

Stanley Bing is an executive at a FORTUNE 500 company he would rather not name. He is the author of two new books: The Big Bing, a collection of essays, and You Look Nice Today, a novel. He can be reached at