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Ways to slim down your meals: at the table

Don't skip breakfast. It will only induce mid-morning cravings which you'll try to satisfy with anything that's on hand — greasy burgers, samosas, chocolate, whatever. aclepsa.com

If you cannot stomach eating anything first thing in the morning, a late-morning snack can be an alternative to a normal breakfast. Just make sure it's a healthy snack. (For instance, fresh fruits topped with yoghurt and sprinkled with cinnamon).

Yes, it was Mark Twain who said that "Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs". But then he was a humourist and while that bit of wit can be a great thing to sprinkle Sunday morning

breakfast conversation with, it really should not be part of your personal agenda for starting off the day.

Add vegetables, capsicum, mushrooms, onions to an egg-white omelet, not ham or cheese.

Be aware that both margarine and butter have the same amount of fat, though margarine, being made from vegetable oils, has no cholesterol. If you must use one or the other, however, prefer the soft margarine that comes in a tub because it has less saturated fat than butter (and that makes it better for your heart). Most packet or stick margarines have a saturated-fat content similar to that of butter and they are not suitable alternatives.

Better choices at the breakfast table are to spread your bread or toast thinly with an all-fruit preserve or a paneer-based spread you can make at home, flavouring it according to your choice.

Watch for the fat traps at the dining table: pickles in oil,

(avocados, coffee whiteners (usually high in saturated fat, sneaking in as "hydrogenated vegetable fat" — read the label).

Starting a main meal with a soup fills you up and takes the edge off your appetite at the cost of just a few calories. But we're talking here of light clear soups — not something like vichyssoise which relies for its flavour on the heavy contributions of butter and cream. And not soups topped with cream, cheese, butter, or garnished with deep-fried croutons.

If you want soup with a creamy texture without using cream, give it body by pureeing low-fat cheese, vegetables, starches, milk and seasonings.

Another good idea for starters is a garden salad (with a light dressing). If you fill up on vegetables, you'll eat less of the more calorie-packed items on the table.

Even a glass of water before a meal can help you eat a little less.