How do some people manage to indulge in all kinds of food and drink and still enter each new year without even so much as a hangover around the waistband? It's just not fair.

Desperate to find out the code to keeping off the kilos, our agents went in search of the secrets to eating and drinking without guilt or gain. To our surprise, we discovered a few tricks that are dead easy to follow and rather clever too.

So here it is: your Skinnies’ Spy Guide to shaping up.

They hydrate wisely 
Did you know a fruit juice, two regular coffees, a latté, one gassy cool drink plus a glass of white wine per day add up to nearly the same number of kilojoules as that of half a loaf of white bread? Scary!

But this doesn't mean you have to avoid your favourite drinks. If you want a cappuccino, ask for foam not cream and don't add sugar. Fancy a latté? Remember the magic word: skinny. A latté made with skim milk tastes nearly as good as its full-cream cousin.

More tips:

    • Dilute a tall glass of your favourite juice with lots of water and plenty of ice.

    • Slash your kilojoule intake by opting for diet versions of your favourite soft drinks.

    • Jazz up a glass of water with fresh ingredients such as cucumber, orange or lemon slices, cinnamon sticks or sprigs of basil and mint.

They add yoghurt to the barbeque
You can still enjoy fatty foods, but it's a small indulgence, with just enough sinful ingredients to make an otherwise low-kilojoule dish taste decadently rich.

If you're having a barbie, stick to the basic skinny rules by removing the skin from chicken and the fat from chops. And don't drown your potatoes in full-fat mayonnaise. Baby potatoes boiled in their jackets and tossed in a little bit of olive oil (high in kilojoules but very good for the heart) taste much better anyway.

Corn on the cob is a great alternative to bread. But instead of coating hot cob corn with butter, dip them in a dressing of a little blue cheese and low-fat plain yoghurt.

As for the inevitable sweet treats that follow a barbeque, why not stick to fruit. You can make fruit kebabs and marinate them in honey; then put them on the barbeque.

They eat cheese
Yes, we found that hard to believe too. But the trick is knowing which which cheeses to choose: thinly shaved parmesan, a sprinkling of reduced-fat feta or reduced-fat mozzarella rather than high-fat cheddar.

And they watch how much cheese they eat. Just by having half the amount of cheese on an average size pizza, you can decrease your intake by about 1,000 kJ – that’s the equivalent of a whole chocolate muffin!

They use the 'sandwich' technique
Tap into an awesome tip from Susan Roberts, author of The Instinct Diet: Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep It Off. Susan suggests you "sandwich" high-fat foods between two high-fibre, lower-kilojoule foods to trick your body into feeling fuller.

So start a meal with a big green salad, followed by a small decadent main dish, and then finish it off with fresh fruit.

They know it's all about timing
You can still tuck into burgers, spare ribs and chips too but focus on eating treats slowly and in smaller portions. Try it. Not only will eating slowly help keep your weight under control, it will also enhance your eating pleasure as the longer you take to finish your food, the more you'll savour the experience. Far better than scoffing everything in a few seconds and then scrounging around for more.

They make exercise fun
Why not walk before and after meals, or go dancing and take a yoga class with friends. You can also enjoy activities with their kids, such as horse riding, ice skating, playing cricket in the garden or on the beach, and organising hikes.

They snack before meals (and we thought it was just us…)
The worst mistake you can make is to go out hungry. If you're starving you'll probably want to eat everything you lay your eyes on as soon as you go out to a party. Have a whole-wheat cracker with cottage cheese before going out. And have a glass of water too – we often confuse thirst with hunger.

They like sweet treats
If you choose ice blocks rather than creamy vanilla ice cream cones coated in chocolate. Make your own ice blocks using fruit juice. Or if you want a creamier option, stick a wooden kebab skewer into a small tub of low-fat yoghurt and then freeze. You can enjoy lots of different flavours this way too. A frozen yoghurt contains around 728kJ instead of the 1,000kJ packed into a vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate.

If you're a chocolate junkie, stock up on antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and savour a piece when your sweet tooth needs satisfying – you'll be less likely to binge on chocolate away from home.

They're ice wise
Alcohol is a diet killer. The fact of the matter is the average alcoholic drink contains 800kJ per glass – indulge in just two or three and you'll have drunk the equivalent of an entire meal.

Cocktails are tempting, but they have high levels of fat and sugar, especially the cream-based ones. Your best options are light beer or a white wine spritzer with plenty of ice. Whisky is the best spirit to choose – mix it with lots of water to decrease the number of kilojoules even more.

Another tip is to have a tall glass of water before you leave home. This way, your thirst will be quenched, allowing you to sip slowly on your drinks at the party.


>> Spruce up those healthy diet foods you hate
>> The skinny on snacks
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