Drew's Difficult Diet

335 Pounds!

After years of being obese, Drew Nieporent recently lost more than 100 pounds. It was an amazing achievement for anyone, but especially for him. Richard Schlesinger reports on his battle to stay slim.

Few people face more constant temptation than Nieporent. He is one of New York's most successful restaurateurs. He runs 14 restaurants throughout the country – among them, some of New York's hottest places.

"I love food. I'm obsessed with it," he says.

Nieporent, 47, has struggled with his weight since childhood. Over the years, as his restaurants multiplied, so did his weight. By 2001, he was up to 335 pounds.

"I pretty much had given up," says his wife, Ann. "For years, he kept saying, 'When I'm ready, I'll do it.' But then he no longer believed he could do it, and I think that scared him."

He compares himself to a drug addict, and says it was a friend's intervention that saved him.

Nieporent was persuaded to go to Minnesota's Mayo Clinic, where doctors told him he was suffering from morbid obesity and weight-related heart problems.

He decided against weight loss surgery, and chose old-fashioned willpower. He changed his lifestyle and his eating style, and has gone on what he calls the "low everything diet."

"There's only one way to lose weight. And that's calorically keeping under a certain number of calories per day," he says.

"I don't eat anything white," he jokes. "Flour, potatoes. No bread, no pasta, things you love."

Before the diet, Nieporent's customary lunch was a cheeseburger and fried onions. Now it's grilled salmon, arugula and beans. It's not easy to watch the calories, even in his restaurants.

His discipline is strict. He says he is tempted constantly.

"There's a lot of smelling going on," he jokes. He says that smelling food, touching food, and remembering the taste of food is almost as good as eating food. That's his story and he's sticking to it.

"Let me tell you, I know exactly the way (a cheeseburger) tastes," he says. "If I put it in my mouth, I'm going to think – 'Tomorrow, I'll wake up and I'm going to have gained 50 pounds.' I mean, I don't want to go through that."

It's a daily battle, one that he has lost before.

How will he beat the odds?

"It becomes – well, it becomes a priority every day," he says. "The health, well-being and wanting to hang around a little for your family and friends becomes more important than gorging yourself on food."
  • David Kohn

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