Image: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Kevin Frayer  /  Pool via Getty Images
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, shown leaving the hospital after a minor stroke, has been advised to change his eating habits.
updated 12/20/2005 3:46:43 PM ET 2005-12-20T20:46:43

The day before his minor stroke, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon enjoyed a typical meal with family and friends. The menu included hamburgers, steak in chimichurri sauce, lamb chops, shish kebab and salads.

For dessert, Sharon had chocolate cake — and then some more cake, the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv reported.

Sharon is renowned for his determination and steel will, but there is one thing that just might be stronger than "the Bulldozer" — his appetite.

After the obese, 77-year-old premier suffered a stroke Sunday, his doctors told him to go on a diet. He has not yet decided whether to follow their advice, his aides said Tuesday.

President Bush even called Sharon on Tuesday and urged him to "be careful about food, start exercising and cut back on work hours," according to a government statement.

"Be careful, my friend," said Bush, a former runner who frequently goes mountain biking.

Sharon told Bush he would rest at his Jerusalem residence for a few days and get back to work as soon as possible.

Sharon will decrease his workload and spend the next few days primarily resting, Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon said.

But he hinted that changing the prime minister's eating habits could prove to be a more daunting task.

"The prime minister is a man who already has a few years behind him. He has certain habits that I think are difficult to change," Maimon told Israel's Army Radio. "Regarding the culinary issues, maybe it's more difficult, but we will all pitch in."

Doctors say overweight people tend to be more prone to strokes, but a repeat can often be avoided by a change in diet and weight loss.

The prime minister often jokes about his love of food and his girth, but his aides have refused to say how much he weighs. His favorite food is "meat in every way," adviser Asaf Shariv said.

"He has been told he needs to go on a diet since 1965."

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