From the interview archives: ‘Normal People’ diet tips

What do so-called “normal people” — those who don’t struggle with their weight — do when the scale creeps up a few pounds or their favorite jeans get a big snug?

Here are some answers to that question, which I discovered while rummaging around in my interview archives:

Jeff Yeager, the Ultimate Cheapskate

Jeff Yeager, aka the Ultimate Cheapskate, author of The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches, The Cheapskate Next Door and, most recently, Don’t Throw That Away!

“If I notice a weight gain of more than a few pounds, I guess I sort of unconsciously ratchet back on the fats for a few days and maybe go for a few longer bike rides, and then the scale goes back down.”

Charles Isch, my dad, also known in some circles as the recently retired president of the First Bank of Berne in Berne, Ind.:

“Cut back on portions and exercise more.”

Maria Ijomanta, Fort Wayne physical therapist:

“I follow a diabetic diet – low carbohydrate, low triglycerides. It works well for me.”

Karen-Lee Ryan

Karen-Lee Ryan, adventurer, blogger and director of digital content for The Tennessean in Nashville:

“There’s a certain number I hate to see on the scale, so when I start approaching it, it’s a reminder to scale back portions, say no to sweets at work and add more veggies and salads into my week.”

Dan Ullman, food blogger and tech guy for a Seattle firm that plots undersea maps: 

“I cut back on beer. For one reason or another good beer goes directly to my gut.”

My sister Traci

My sister and running partner, Traci Heller, a respiratory therapist in Bluffton, Ind.:

“I used to never eat French fries at a restaurant, only at home, but since New Year’s I’ve also stopped eating them at home as well … If my jeans start to get tight and I feel like I need to lose a few pounds, I cut back on gourmet coffee and regular pop.”

My brother-in-law, Gunnar Heller

My brother-in-law Gunnar Heller, Traci’s husband and an accountant with Franklin Electric in Bluffton:

I tell my wife to buy a head of lettuce for lunches and then try to curb my beer and soda intake.”


Bearrunner, marathoner and blogger from Halifax, Novia Scotia

When he’s injured and knows he won’t be burning as many calories, “I tend to cut back on grains and snacks… I find I am usually hungry and if given the option, I could eat all the time. If I had to take an extended period of rest I would avoid pop and sweets and high calorie foods (most of the time).”

Susan Penrod Osterkil, Fort Wayne homeschool mom, dancer and La Leche League leader:

Susan Penrod Osterkil

“I gained about 20 pounds at one point, because of medication I was taking. I also lost 20 pounds once (unintentionally, by cutting out dairy and then getting the flu) Both sides – needing to re-gain or to lose – involved an uncomfortable level of focus on food for me. I really didn’t like all the thinking about food. I work better with general principles, casually applied. If change is required I want a plan, but I’d put it in terms like beer twice a week, cheese only at lunch, one dessert…

My brother, Brent Isch, industrial packaging salesman:

“I aim for 1,500 calories per day or less and avoiding especially tempting foods.”

Faith Van Gilder

Faith Van Gilder, former copy desk guru at The News-Sentinel, now an account supervisor for the Asher Agency in Fort Wayne:

“One trick we use is to put a serving of food on our plates, then immediately put the rest in the fridge, so we’re not tempted to eat seconds.”

Karen Lenfestey

Karen Lenfestey, author of A Sister’s Promise and What Happiness Looks Like:

Karen says she follows three primary eating rules: “Don’t eat anything unless you absolutely love it (except, of course, for vegetables), stop eating when you’re full, and don’t eat a slice of chocolate cake unless it’s homemade.

“I read recently that one of my other habits, drinking skim milk with meals, is also something that helps keep one’s weight down. I also try to find ways to satisfy my sugar cravings without too many calories and one of my favorite tricks is to eat a Tootsie Pop.”

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