Diet is Such and Ugly Word

Author: Kelly Smith
Contributor(s): Kelly Ottenbreit
Published on: April 1, 2003

Diet. It is such a hideous word isn’t it? Most of us cringe the moment we hear it. Visions of celery stalks and carrot sticks dance in our heads. We are not only worried about losing weight but staying healthy while we are doing it. “Eat butter, don’t eat butter. Don’t eat eggs, eat eggs.” Advice from nutrition experts changes everyday. Does it have to be so hard?
Meanwhile, the companies (I won’t mention any names because they already know who they are) who tote their newest diet fads are laughing all the way to the bank. “I did it and so can you!” quotes “Barbie” in the after picture in the magazine ad. Her claim of going from a size 22 to size 6 inspires us all and it doesn’t take much convincing. Who wouldn’t want to lose wait without getting our butts off the couch and being able to eat anything? Could we actually look like the picture of that women who has a 24-inch waist, perky breasts, beautiful complexion . . . Is that what happens to you when you lose weight, you start to think. Hmmm . . . What they fail to tell you is the latest diet dose hasn’t been properly tested or approved by the FDA. Years down the line you hear on CNN that some of the ingredients cause heart failure or cancer. These companies also don’t bother to tell us that once you go off the diet, you gain all of the weight back! So what’s a girl to do? Is diet and nutrition really that important?

Personal trainer Kelly Ottenbreit believes so. I recently spoke to her regarding the importance of diet and nutrition. Ottenbreit talked about emotional eating, her own struggle and tips she gives to her own clients regarding their struggle with food.

“I believe that 70 percent of what we look like is diet and 30 percent is how we train or how active we are. But, having said that I think that the most important factors in nutrition are balance and moderation.

Unfortunately, when someone is trying to lose weight they often focus so much on what they are eating that they are thinking about it all the time and they end up eating way more than they need and they become "obsessive" about it. It is important to be aware of what you are eating, but how much and why are more important.” Ottenbreit said.

Emotions Take Over

“Some of my clients are really bad emotional eaters and I try to give them strategies to work through the cravings. For the most part it boils down to awareness. Quite often we have an angry, sad or frustrated feeling or thought and then we think about eating.

“Personally, I know that I always use to overeat when I was angry. I wasn't really good about expressing my feelings, and so instead of dealing with what was bothering me I would binge on something and then I could be mad at myself for overeating, instead of dealing with the real issue,” explained Ottenbreit.

Personal Struggle

Two years ago I competed in body building and I dieted for three months. I lost thirty pounds eating 5 meals per day. The food we ate was the same every day, chicken, veggies and rice and we just kept cutting back each week. But, for one year after the competition, I really struggled with my eating, body image and self-esteem. What the dieting created was good and bad foods, and because I only felt it safe to eat five or six foods anytime I ate something that wasn't one of those safe foods - I binged.

Vicious Cycle – “Round and Round We Go!”

It took a long time for me to be able to eat a well-rounded diet without feeling guilty or feeling like I shouldn't be eating this or that. I felt guilty and would promise myself that I would never eat it again. I would make these promises as I stuffed myself full of course, eating way more than I ever would have if I had given myself permission to eat the so-called bad foods in the first place.

Helpful Hints to Get Through the Day

“I usually give my clients a hunger scale, 0 is starving and 10 is stuffed full and I advise them to stay between 4 and 7. This means that they are never hungry and then they are never full.

“Whenever I make recommendations for my clients I always recommend that they eat protein and carbohydrates together. This helps keep the blood sugar stable and therefore less insulin is released into the bloodstream and less sugar is stored as fat. This is crucial at meals and important for snacks. Great snacks can be a piece of fruit and 1/5 cup of almonds, toast and peanut butter, yogurt and cottage cheese, low-fat cheese and fruit or deli slices and whole-wheat crackers. I don't believe in dieting.”

Cheater Cheater

I don't believe in cheat days either. I think that they set someone up for poor eating habits. If you truly want something, eat it. It is not what you eat once in a while that hurts you, it is what you eat on a regular basis. Habits. Having said all that, once I finally gave myself permission to eat what ever I wanted, I stopped craving junk. I use to be a real sugar junkie and now I could not care less. I try to eat healthy and I do fairly well. Healthy food makes me feel better. I always eat every three hours and I eat small portions. The biggest thing is to keep small meals handy all the time. It is so easy to make a bad choice when you are hungry. It may mean that you have to spend more time planning out meals, but it pays off very fast,” says Ottenbreit. Kelly Ottenbreit is a personal trainer for World Health Clubs in Calgary, Alberta.