By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Oct 03, 2013 at 5:01 AM Photography:

For the seventh straight year, October is Dining Month on, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2013."

It would be nice if I could get away with being pleasingly plump or even rotund.

But the plain fact is that I am fat, and it’s caused a lot of health problems for me. I have always loved to eat. Good food. Bad food. I loved to cook and to eat.

I especially loved eating out and trying new dishes, no matter the nutritional content. If a piece of meat didn’t have enough fat on it I complained that there wouldn’t be enough flavor.

I loved chefs and being able to eat multiple courses.

But I recently had a serious health scare, not unrelated to my fatness. And so, here I am, still with the desire to eat out, but trying to figure out how to do it with at least a little bit of common sense. I’ve read stuff and talked to a lot of experts. And I’ve listened to myself and I’ve got some ideas about how to eat out and still be healthy or even (hopefully) lose some of the weight you carry around.

The first thing is salt. Try to limit yourself to 1,500 grams a day. Salt does nothing but make you retain fluids and that is not a great thing. When you are out, ask your server to have the kitchen prepare your dish without salt. Ask him to bring other spices in the kitchen to your table.

Most places are very accommodating. This is especially important in non-high-end restaurants where salt is used liberally.

The next most important thing is to have some discipline in your portion control.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, needs a 22-ounce ribeye steak with a mound of onion rings and mashed potatoes and gravy.

But it’s hard to stop once you start. So what I’ve started to do, and it seems to work, is ask for an extra plate when dinner comes. Then, before I start eating, I take what I want to be leftovers and put them on the other plate. Sometimes I take them home for the next day and sometimes I just leave it there.

But I actually enjoy a meal more if I’m not struggling with overdose.

The other thing is dessert.

It’s okay to have a gallon of cashew caramel ice cream in your freezer if it takes you two weeks to eat it. If it takes you two days – Houston, we have a problem.

When you are out, ask your server to bring you half of whatever dessert you order. Pay full price, but just get half of it. And eat the whole thing.

I’ve discovered that most of the difficulty in losing weight is that you deny yourself stuff. Nobody likes that.

There are no "don’t even think about it" foods on my list. There is nothing I won’t eat. But I am going to eat all of it in smaller portions and slower.

Another thing to do when you are dining out is never, ever, under no circumstances, go through a drive-through. There is nothing good for you at those fast food places.

I eat out a lot and I’m finding that if I just talk to my server I’m able to get things that taste wonderful and are wonderful for me.

What a country we live in.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.