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Ever wondered how New Yorkers manage to stay slim in a city filled with delicious food? Here's how...

7 March 2013

By Natalie Cornish

The Manhattan Diet

Temptation is everywhere in New York City. From the Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko to much-loved French brasserie, Balthazar via Chelsea Market's mouthwatering pop-up restaurants, Magnolia Bakery's cult cupcakes and the amazing delis and pizzerias that adorn every street corner - New York really is foodie heaven!

Yet, most women who live in the borough of Manhattan still manage to fit in to sample sizes while sporting that radiant glow which only comes from eating well. They dine out a few times a week, sip on cocktails after a long-day at the office and aren't adverse to a bag of potato chips - not exactly strict.

So, how do Manhattan women manage to stay so toned and trim while still enjoying the best cuisine New York has to offer? Journalist Eileen Daspin wrote The Manhattan Diet (£7.99; Quercus) after asking herself the same question. A New Yorker surrounded by svelte foodie friends, she wanted to find out exactly how they do it - and help other women desperate to lose weight in the process. So she asked the 'thin, fit, stylish women' around her to keep food diaries.

The Manhattan Diet reveals their secrets, some of which might surprise you...

Buy The Manhattan Diet

Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... eat dinner for breakfast

Manhattan women... eat dinner for breakfast

And vice-versa. 'Eat what your body craves', Eileen says. 'Just because it's 8am doesn't mean you have to have eggs, fruit, porridge or Pop Tarts. At midnight, how about a bowl of granola? Myriam, a teacher, served herself a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, onions and sardines at 10am almost every day. 'Who needs conformity? When it comes to eating, Manhattan women don't worry about that. They're too busy.' Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... walk everywhere

(Image credit: Garo/Phanie / Rex Features)

Manhattan women... walk everywhere

Any chore is best done on foot - that's the mantra Manhattan women live by. 'The typical woman is walking between two and three miles a day... It's the baseline exercise in Manhattan and readies you up for everything that follows', Eileen explains. 'Ur-Manhattanite Sarah Jessica Parker stays in shape by taking stairs instead of elevators. She carries her baby instead of using a [buggy]. I carry my groceries five blocks (about a quarter of a mile) instead of taking a taxi home.' Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... repeat eat

Manhattan women... repeat eat

'Make habit your friend', Eileen says. 'Again and again I came across notes like 'I don't mind eating the same thing a couple of days in a row' in reference to a tuna melt that did double lunch on Monday and Tuesday. 'Keep it simple. As a busy person, I don't have the mental bandwith or refrigerator space [to make a] completely different meal for every lunch of the week. It's knowing what I like and sticking to it. Too much variety is actually a bad thing, because it can lead to overeating.' Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... do their homework

Manhattan women... do their homework

They might have a reputation for eating out every night, but that's just not the case. Most Manhattan women like to cook at home from scratch using good quality ingredients. When they do eat out though, swotting up is de rigeur. 'Research is your friend', Eileen says. 'Many Manhattan Dieters have fallback meals and even restaurant genres. Japanese is a no-brainer... and never underestimate a good roasted chicken. Checking menus online before making a reservation can help you to settle on a meal ahead of time.' Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... read every label

(Image credit: Rex Features)

Manhattan women... read every label

And shun any food or drink labeled as 'diet' along with most packaged foods. 'Find a store that reflects the way you want to eat and that actually works at stocking healthy, wholesome ingredients', Eileen says. 'Learn to read labels. You know the drill; avoid products with additives you can't pronounce. 'Don't be misled by phrases like 'trans fat-free' and 'all natural'. Arsenic is all natural. You don't want that on your breakfast cereal'. Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... never clear their plates

(Image credit: Rex Features)

Manhattan women... never clear their plates

They don't diet, they're disciplined and mindful of what's on the end of that fork. 'A good meal is not a big meal', Eileen explains. 'A good meal is one that tastes good. A salad and half a dozen boiled prawns will just leave you feeling very hungry. Go for foods that are satisfying and gratifying. If that's macaroni cheese, so be it but eat half a portion. 'Stop before you're full - way before, learn to recognise the sweet spot between being full and not being hungry. Really enjoy what you eat, but just eat less of it. This is the best dieting advice ever.' Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... roast, roast, roast!

Manhattan women... roast, roast, roast!

Whether it's vegetables, fish or meat. 'It takes about twenty minutes to roast most vegetables. Broccoli and cauliflower get brown and crispy. If you use sweet potato or butternut squash in a root vegetable mix, the vegetables caramelise for a honey-like flavour. Kale gets super flaky and breaks up almost like crisps - but with beta-carotene, vitamin A and no saturated fat. 'Dump the oil spray. Buy a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil', Ellen says. Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... eat small and often

(Image credit: Rex Features)

Manhattan women... eat small and often

Grazing is the norm in NY. 'Even restaurant menus reflect this trend', Eileen says. 'Only two of the twenty-five journal keepers ate anything like three distinct meals a day... In Manhattan it's all about maintaining the blood sugar level, which is why the day is structured as a series of small meals and snacks. 'Stock up your desk with energy bars, almonds, cheese cubes, crackers, raisins and dried fruit such as cranberries.' Find more diet plans here

Manhattan women... wouldn't consider doing a faddy diet

Manhattan women... wouldn't consider doing a faddy diet

Everything in moderation means just that to Manhattan women. They load up on salad every mealtime but still enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner. They'll order dessert without feeling guilty but cut back on calories another day. And faddy diets are a big no-no. 'In this age of carbohydrate demonisation, perhaps the biggest surprise to me was the popularity of pasta, rice and bread products among my journal keepers', Eileen says. 'I'm not sure who is following those low-carbohydrate regimens, but my women are not.' Buy The Manhattan Diet Find more diet plans here