When people hear about my weight loss of 157 pounds — down a couple more "lbs" from my last column — they often ask what diet I'm on and inquire, "What do you eat?"

You mean, besides celery and tofu?

Well, there are those yummy puffed-rice cakes.

Truth be told, I eat almost everything and anything — just not all in one sitting like I used to. It's all about moderation. Nothing is off-limits. Except for puffed-rice cakes, celery and tofu.

To give a sample of my diet, here's a diary entry to show what was on my menu Tuesday:

8:30 a.m.: Wake up (after going to bed at 3 a.m.) to loud noise. It's either my stomach growling or my pug snoring. Maybe both. Down a nonfat key lime pie yogurt and a can of diet cola for breakfast.

9:30 a.m.: Snarf a granola bar for my second breakfast. I'm not full but not ravenous, either.

9:31 a.m.-12:59 p.m.: Busy getting ready for work, working, etc., so my mind's really not on food. Mostly.

1 p.m.: Mind and stomach both impatient for food. Head to the sandwich shop of that dude who's shown us his really big pants on TV for a decade. Get an overflowing footlong sub/salad in an edible honey-oat bread container that includes low-fat chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, banana peppers, olives, cucumbers, pickles, green peppers, mustard and low-fat red-wine vinaigrette. Decide against chips.

1:10 p.m.: Stop at convenience store to refill 52-ounce jug with Diet Coke. Pass approximately 7.2 trillion calories worth of quick-grab goodies and grub — everything from cupcakes to pizza to theater-style candy to rootbeer float-flavored frozen yogurt to chocolate chip cookies and ... (drool) ... all on sale, of course — en route to soda fountain.

1:11 p.m.: Exit store proud for ignoring the tempting sweet-and-salty sirens' call. Drive away wondering if "Free Gas Club" sign is in reference to fuel or junk food.

2:00 p.m.: Walk into work. Remember and reinforce resolve to not munch on free candy at the feeding trough next to my desk that is kept loaded with M&Ms, licorice, Swedish Fish, trail mix, taffy, mini-candybars, etc. by a generous co-worker who's either just super nice or who's just trying to fatten us all up. Maybe both.

4:30 p.m.: Head home. Stop for Refill Round 2 at convenience store. Give myself the usual lecture about how I need to stop drinking so much soda, even if it is diet. At least I resist snacks again.

4:43 p.m.: Ask wife what's for dinner. All this snack resisting is making me hungry. Grab bag of carrots, secretly thinking this will make my column's readers impressed by my healthy choice. My daughter is impressed, too. "Awa kara." After running the phrase through my toddler translation device, I hand her a carrot. Pat myself on back for suddenly being a good food role model.

4:54 p.m.: Three-year-old son brings me back down to earth. He learned in preschool — or "Pre-K," as the cool moms call it — about healthy foods. "But why do you drink soda?" he asks. "It's not good for you." Wonder if Mrs. Jody and Miss Crystal are conspiring against me.

6:53 p.m.: Wife finally responds about what's for dinner: Leftovers.

7:00 p.m.: Sneak bites of secretly healthy Mac & Cheese she's concocted for kids. Don't tell them, but Mrs. Jody added mashed c-a-u-l-i-f-l-o-w-e-r (yes, she spelled it out for me). Now nutritionists and Miss Crystal will approve of it.

7:10 p.m.: Inhale two cups of whole-wheat spaghetti with low-fat mushroom tomato sauce and two pieces of secretly healthy white bread that is made of w-h-o-l-e-g-r-a-i-n-s (yes, the bread company spelled that out for me, too). Drink big glass of water, so wife and kids don't harass me about Diet Coke.

7:20 p.m.: Eat four olives before they end up on scary-who-knows-where-they've-been kid fingers.

7:31 p.m.: Eat dessert — sugarless mint gum. Yum. Admit it, you're jealous.

8:00 p.m.: Go to store. Eyes quickly become fixated on caramel apple display. Convince myself that that fall favorite would be a somewhat healthy treat. Buy dozen apples, wife agrees to make homemade caramel.

9:00 p.m.: Return home. Wife is suddenly "busy," so no homemade caramel tonight (wonder if I smell another conspiracy here ... or maybe it's just a dirty diaper). Grab caramel-less apple. Son moans about being "SOOOO HUNGRY!!!" Daughter says "Awa appa." So we all eat apples together — a sweet moment minus the added fat and calories. Nutritionists and preschool teachers and conspiring wives would be proud.

9:30 p.m.-11:16 p.m.: Drink more water, watch season premiere of "The Biggest Loser" and then go to bed hoping that "Awa carama appa" feeling will vanish in the night.


E-mail: [email protected]