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What sort of diet makes *you* feel your best?

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This is not a solicitation for diet advice -- I am of the opinion that every person needs to find what works well for their own body. I'm just plain curious what day-to-day diets make other chowhounds feel good.

In my personal experience, I am finding that the more I base my diet on fresh produce and lots of protein, the better I feel.

If I had to put together an ideal day of feel-good eats, it'd probably go something like this:

Breakfast -- a big mug of coffee or a pot of green tea, two sunny-side-up eggs, slice of [gluten-free] toast, 1/2 an avocado
Morning snack -- 1/4 C. raw cashews or almonds, 1/4 C. raisins
Lunch -- a big pile of mixed greens topped with a can of tuna or sardines or beans if I have a batch cooked, leftover steamed veggies from last night's dinner, whatever salad-y veggies I have around (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, etc.), and whatever homemade salad dressing I have in the fridge
Afternoon snack -- greek yogurt and a piece of fruit, maybe more nuts
Dinner -- half the plate filled up with a basic dinner salad, other half with brown rice or quinoa and chicken or fish
Evening snack/dessert -- a couple squares of dark chocolate, more fruit, herbal tea

Bear in mind, this isn't how I eat every day. The more stressed I am, the more I find myself reaching for chocolate and crunchy, carby snacks. But I do notice that when I eat more in tune with the example above, I feel lighter on my feet and better in general.

So. I'm sorry if this post is a little (or a lot) navel-gaze-y, and you have been bored to tears by it. If this is the case, please don't feel the need to reply and tell me how boring I am! I'd love to know, what kind of diet makes *you* feel good?

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  1. I feel best when I stick to meat & vegetables. (hence, the name) Unless it's something unusual or once in a lifetime, like squid ink pasta, I always pass on the potatoes, breads and pasta.
    If I let my stomach guide me, I eat only 1 or 2 meals a day, the timing varies and when I eat, I eat big, which is why brazailian rodizios don't like seeing me too often.

    1. A diet filled with mom's cooking makes me feel good.

      1. Honestly, I couldn't give you an average day because my diet varies a lot. I think it's the variety that makes me feel good, but if you broke it down into macronutrients, it often looks somewhat similar day to day, I suspect. I feel my best energetically when I eat lots of fruit and veg, lean protein, and specific whole grains and seeds, nuts, olives, whole eggs, oils in moderation. I mostly avoid dairy, wheat, corn, and soy, but that's because I have a sensitive system. (I am sure they are beneficial for most people.) I adore eating what's in season, and look forward to summer every year because I live where it gets quite cold in winter.

        I'm similar to you, operagirl, in that I tend toward simple carbs when tired or stressed. I think it's just human nature to look for quickly assimilated energy sources. Unfortunately, that quickness has it's downside, a blood sugar crash, most unpleasant. I find it helps on those days, especially when working a deadline while exhausted or sleep deprived, it helps enormously to eat smaller meals more frequently. I'm lucky I have a job where it's easy to snack on raw nuts or say, eat half the sandwich a couple hours apart, that sort of thing. I really feel for people who don't have that freedom. It's hard on a person.

        1. i've finally settled into the pattern that keep me feeling satisfied *and* the healthiest i've ever felt...and most Chowhounds would be horrified by the prospect of living this way. but i don't feel the least bit deprived, and in fact, enjoy every single meal i eat :)

          several servings per day:
          - protein - seafood, poultry, eggs, beef, bison
          - fat - avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, cacao nibs, cocoa butter
          - fibrous vegetables

          once per day:
          - fruit - usually berries

          a few servings per week:
          - legumes

          1-2 times per week:
          - dairy - usually a container of Greek yogurt or a serving of cheese

          never:
          - grains & starch
          - sugar

          that last one has been difficult, but not for the reason you'd think. i don't miss *eating* those foods at all anymore...i miss BAKING. i'll go back to it at some point, but right now i'm feeling too good to start messing around with all that.

          2 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Great thread! I've been experimenting with raw vegan this summer and when I stick to the plan it's a glass of lemon water to start the day, then watermelon and green smoothie depending on what I have on hand. I snack on bananas all day long and I agree with amyzan that I am very lucky to be able to do this. For dinner I am supposed to have a big big salad with lots of leafy greens and some avocado and a bit of olive oil but this is where I cheat. And we won't talk about the two or three cups of coffee I down. :) For a late night snack right now that is easy because strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are in.
            Even with my cheating (and I've been advised to eat cooked food at least once every two weeks) I feel so well hydrated. If I were a plant I'd be a succulent. I have more energy and despite the caffeine I'm not ready to give up I feel calmer. I'm not getting the energy spikes and crashes that a yummy glazed donut gives me. If I feel a bit droopy I have a date or two and maybe a banana. This diet is fairly easy to follow right now here in July in Penna but I do miss cooking and especially baking like goodhealth.
            In summers past I have been surprised at how well sushi keeps me energized for hours.

            1. re: givemecarbs

              I have to agree with Goodhealthgourmet and GivemeCarbs: giving up baking is critical. Usually I fall off the no-sugar bandwagon (which I know I need to be on for health-reasons..) when I bake.

          2. Sugar. Lots and lots of sugar.

            Typically, one day a week I'm active for 6+ hours. Energy bars? Heck, no. This is the day to go for simple carbs, mainly in the form of sugar. Cookies, cakes, bars... All sorts of pastries and pizzas are consumed.

            Sugar is fuel. My body is very happy when it's burning a ton of simple fuel. I'm very happy at consuming a bunch of tasty treats. So, both body and mind are in a happy state.

            Now, if I could only figure out a way to do that 7 days a week.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ediblover

              Now, if I could only figure out a way to do that 7 days a week.
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~
              become a professional competitive athlete ;)

            2. In no particular order: Pizza, meatloaf, ice cream, brownies, bourbon, Guinness and a multi-vitamin.

              4 Replies
              1. re: beevod

                Isn't Guinness already a multivitamin? ;)

                1. re: im_nomad

                  Guinness is drinkable bread, better than buttered toast!

                  1. re: im_nomad

                    You can't be too careful.

                  2. re: beevod

                    I could live with that.

                  3. I have again embraced Low Carbing. I have more energy, no morning brain fog, fewer aches & pains, and just feel 'right' when eating Primal Blueprint. It allows for your own decisions about dairy, rice, which is a grass, not a grain, but is basically, NO grains, sugars, breads, or heavy starchy veggies. My body likes this, and it did 10 years ago when I let my Dr. talk me out of it, and then I gained 35 pounds. It's coming off now, but at 67 it doesn't happen quickly, not much else happens quickly either!! But if I never lose another pound, I'll stay eating this way.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Nanzi

                      A very similar experience for me. I operate well and feel good on a low carb regimen. Previously, I let others convince me that I was making a big mistake to cut out grains but as soon as I resumed the "good" "healthy" whole grains I was overeating again.

                      Now I've completely cut out all grains, all forms of sweeteners (including fruit), nuts and cheeses. I have fish occasionally, chicken less, red meat rarely. I've begun eating a lot of beans and really enjoying them. I've lost 40 pounds since March. My blood pressure and cholesterol are great. I'm not plagued by insatiable appetites. And I feel good.

                      I'm sorry to say I still have about as much weight to lose. ButI won't be distracted or dissuaded by other people's ideas of what I "must" or "must not" eat.

                      Don't know about you but I also find (at 64) that one large meal at midday really works for me. It satisfies rather than excites my appetite. And a high protein drink at night is enough for me and also keeps my protein consumption up so that I don't need to be concerned about muscle loss.

                    2. I tend to feel my best with a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet with proteins (beans, eggs, nuts etc) , vegetables (and lots of them), fruit and only whole grains like barley, bulgur, wheatberries, quinoa etc. A bread/pasta diet, while I love the stuff, makes me feel bloaty and what we call loagy where I come from. Sugary things tend to make me feel kind of crappy but I rarely crave them anyway.

                      I try to eat whole foods, and few low-fat/sugar-free concoction thingies (diet drinks aside, my weakness). I use sesame and olive oil on a regular basis

                      Yes I go off the rails occasionally and eat chips, french fries and chocolate and ice cream, and even treat myself to some seafood if I'm on holiday. I drink wine. So it's not to say that I don't deviate from my "feel best" diet.

                      1. I tried the caveman diet (not sure if that term is right, but basically the protein + veggies - mostly greens - and not much else) once when my sister did it and raved about how great she felt. And I have to say, I also felt great on it - energetic, healthy etc. Sadly for my body, my tastebuds prefer salty/fatty carbs.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: montrealeater

                          I do best when I eat a lot of fresh veggies, fruit, fish, yogurt, good quality cheese, and stick to olive oil over other fats. I use a lot of fresh herbs and I like heat: jalapenos, sciracha, etc. to flavor. I stay away from premade, packaged, low fat substitutes, processed grains, and anything resembling potato chips (though I make mean kale chips). I eat meat but sparingly. If the bulk of food in my bowl is vegetables, and I make a million versions of chef salad and pan bagna, adding good italian tuna or home-cooked turkey breast, etc., I do fine. Also do best when I cook at home. see Mark Bittman's piece in the NY Times earlier this week.

                        2. Coffee with milk, lots of high fiber carbs, sugar in some form every day (but nothing too sweet), cheese, bitter green veggies, oranges, yellow fruits, small amount of meat or vegetarian protein, beans, wine, water.

                          1. I have figured out in the past year or so that there is no one formula for me, that I have to tune in each day , each meal and that what i will need to feel good varies enormously. generally legumes, whole grains, lots of variety in veggies and fruits, full fat dairy ( mostly ricotta and yogurt) when I want it, a range of proteins. I need a variety of textures and flavors to feel good.
                            That said, white flour and refined sugars rarely work for my body ( though my mind still asks, loudly).

                            1. I was actually just thinking about this sort of thing today. I always eat better in the summer months because I have my garden, supplemented by my farmer's market, and I eat tons of fresh vegetables. I feel like I eat "cleaner," if that makes sense. I don't rely as much on junky snacks because I am eating better and I'm not as snack-hungry. In the winter, everything changes because I feel like the produce isn't as fresh (well, yeah) and I start cooking pasta and potatoes all the time. I don't cook a lot of meat at home. I like meat but I don't cook it properly so I just don't cook it much instead of ruining a perfectly nice piece of meat (I know, I should practice). Anyway, in the winter I start getting all draggy and unhealthy-feeling. I wish I could change that.

                              1. As Boudleaux posted, above, "cleaner" food. Meaning generally steering clear of deep-fried stuff (which hurts my gut), sugary or salty stuff (which dehydrates me), and oily or buttery stuff (which makes me sluggish). I do well on leaves, grilled seafood and vegetables, pasta, rice, bread, cheese, yogurt, eggs and fruit. And I rarely snack, 'cause I rarely feel like snacking. If I'm passing out from hunger, I'll have a little peanut butter to tide me over 'til mealtime. Good lord, I sound boring.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: small h

                                  You're a good conversationalist, though! If what we do here can be considered "conversation."

                                  1. re: amyzan

                                    Thanks! and right back at you.

                                2. A nice evening meal of delicious grilled meat (butter added if it's lacking in fat) and a green salad with an olive oil and vinegar dressing. Or three eggs fried in butter with grilled pork sausage. Meals that will totally hold me over until mealtime the next day.

                                  1. I feel good when I was eat something every few hours, including a protein each time. Lots of vegetables, lots of protein, low-carb, though I do eat fruit. Can't imagine life without fruit. Lots of fizzy water, often with citrus squeezed in for taste and variety.

                                    When I'm following that type of diet (it isn't something I am very disciplined about, I love to eat) I eat eggs, almonds, Greek yogurt, chicken, beef, avocados, salads, roasted vegetables, raw vegetables, fruit...

                                    I'm not a super healthy person, I drink coffee every day and like to have a drink, but I really do feel my best when I go low carb and spread my calories out over several snacks/meals.

                                    1. I eat pretty much everything, and feel well doing so. In summer I eat mostly veggies and fruit, with some whole grains and a touch of meat. That's just what I feel like eating in the warmer months. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I love to bake, and the DH manages to consume everything I produce without gaining a pound.

                                      I tend to disregard most studies of what we "should" eat. Nutritional science is still very primitive, and, IMO, no one yet knows what the optimal diet for humans is (or even if there is such a thing).

                                      1. i feel best when i can eat anything at all i want, in reduced portions, and not everyday. ala Weight Watchers, which i am more or less following. yes, it's a "diet", but it's actually more a way of life. I eat a lot more fruit nowadays, due to WW, and veggies, which i always ate, but i still eat potatoes, meat, bread, etc. I just try to eat smaller portions, and try not to eat a steak and fries on the same day i have pizza. one or the other, and then the rest of the time it's lighter portions, more fruits, more veggies. I've lost weight and have not sacrificed variety, and i've absolutely learned that less is always more. I still have cocktails, too. i've never been a big sweets person, so i haven't had to do anything about dessert - it's never been a big issue for me, but if i go out with friends who want dessert, i have my little share and enjoy. it doesn't mean i don't overdo it sometimes, but i just go back to it, and realize that this is the way it has to be forever in order to feel good, light, energetic enough to work out 3-4 times a week, and feel comfortable in my skin and clothes. AND most of all, enjoy ALL kinds of food immensely.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                          mc, so happy to hear ww is working for you. i did it a long time ago (online only) after moving to the US, quitting smoking, and subsequently putting on 7 lbs. within 1 (!) month.

                                          i was also working out 5-6 days a week for 60-90 min. i'd lose a lb, then gain 2, then on down again, so my point allotment kept changing, which drove me nuts. there was never any lasting result, and i was ALWAYS hungry. i still remember buying one of those ww mac n cheese things. i think i almost cried when i saw the size of that portion.

                                          needless to say, i gave up on the whole ww thing after 4 months or so.

                                          tried south beach when it was the rage, and while everyone around me was dropping like crazy, it - once again - had little to no effect: 3 lbs. down, 2 lbs. up, etc. etc. etc. talk about frustrating.

                                          this year, for some reason, the lowER carb approach seems to work. my breakfast used to be read & cheese (my two fave food groups), but they can give me digestive problems, and of course it's not the healthiest thing to eat every day. i have to say i also eat about a 3rd less than i used to -- no more second helpings. i find it hard these days to have anything beyond 3 courses at a resto.

                                          so - i've cut out a lot of cheese, bread, and other simple carbs. i try not to snack at night (which is my biggest downfall), but refuse to cut down on the drinking :-D

                                          a typical day for me -- in the US, at least: breakfast/lunch is 2 eggs scrambled in goose fat & a grapefruit, glass of skim milk.

                                          dinner -- usually salad with grilled or pan-fried meats, fish or shellfish, and a side of veggies.

                                          i eat pasta maybe once a week, not crazy about rice so i don't really miss it. rarely eat potatoes, at least in the summer.

                                          i have lost approx. 10 lbs. since january, and i don't feel like i am depriving myself. those vintage dresses are certainly an incentive '-)

                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            you in those vintage dresses is an incentive for me!
                                            i remember being hungry on WW in the beginning, but my stomach adjusted. and i never use those frozen WW meals. oh i did at the very beginning, but since the first few months it's all home cooking or eating out.

                                            oh man, i could never cut out the cheese, or potatoes - they are my fave carb.

                                            and i'm totally with you on the drinking! THAT'S never going to change in my life, so why cut it out?

                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                              oh, i still have cheese occasionally. just not by the pound anymore '-)

                                              my man used to put out a cheese board around 10 pm for us to snack on along with the wine. not happening so much anymore.

                                              my favorite carb, hands down, is pasta. we could eat it at least 3 times a week, since there are so. many. different ways to prepare it, AND it's cheap dinner. but i find it makes me hungry a few hours later, so i try not to have it too often.

                                              portion control is probably the best lesson to learn.

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                Portion control, boy, you said it. It's also the most difficult for me but I'm addressing it. That's why eating every few hours helps me. I have to think about what it's going to be and take care that it's not too high in calories but nutritious enough to keep me going.

                                                And ixnay on the no oozebay. My cocktails stay. :)

                                        2. Start the day with a big-ass greasy breakfast and black coffee, no thought given to moderation. This must include fried potatoes of some kind. It's hard enough to drag myself out of bed in the morning so it helps a lot if I go to bed anticipating tomorrow’s breakfast.

                                          Lunch is simple, usually just a sandwich or something to avoid nodding off at 3PM.

                                          Dinner is usually a Chinese-style meal, with lots of stir-fried greens, white rice, and a little bit of meat. I love cooked vegetables so I really fill up on them at dinner time.

                                          1. This has been working for me lately:

                                            Breakfast: 1/2 cup of granola/muesli/Kashi/Ezekiel Sprouted cereal mixed with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, sometimes sweetened with a tbsp of maple syrup or honey, and a cup of whatever fruit I've got on hand- lately berries or melon. Or I'll make a quick frittata with 1 egg, some chevre/feta, and spinach/mushroom/arugula, sometimes using last night's leftover vegetables. During the summer. usually start of the day with a skim milk frappe (Greek iced coffee).

                                            Lunch: about 3/4 cup of rice, noodles or potatoes, with 1 ounce of cheese, or 3 ounces of fish/chicken, sometimes some salsa. Or cold soup with a dollop of sour cream.

                                            Dinner: Most nights, 3-4 ounces of turkey/chicken/seafood/pork, 1/2-3/4 cups of rice, quinoa, noodles or some other starch, and as much salad and/or cooked/raw vegetables as I like. I make a vegetarian dinner about once a week, most often a vegetable frittata or a Greek-inspired mac & cheese, with feta, dill, arugula, spinach, leeks, sometimes asparagus,etc.

                                            Snacks- fresh cut fruit, cottage cheese with salsa, cherry tomatoes, carrots, borscht or gazpacho.

                                            Drinks- I feel best if I stick to coffee, tea, agua frescas and infused waters.

                                            1. My days vary wildly, so pinning down a routine to write about is impossible.
                                              I do snack on nuts every day, and I try to eat fish 3 times a week. I like fish, and it makes me feel good. I do not cut carbs, but the day may come when I'll have to. I'm not really big on sweets, so that may be to my favor.
                                              I also take a good multi vitamin and drink way more than my share of water.

                                              1. Coffee for breakfast, lots of water after that, and my meals nowadays consist of lots of produce, a little dairy, and occasionally grains, and I eat beans, eggs, nuts, or fish for protein (usually just a small serving a day). I love bread, potatoes, and pasta, but grew tired of the stomach aches a meal comprised of such gave me, and found that I was able to shed a few pounds when I limited those and increased my vegetable consumption. I feel so much healthier, and far more energetic, than I did a year ago, when my diet was heavy skewed toward meat and bread/potato/pasta. I tried, again, to use brown rice instead of white, but have admitted that I just hate brown rice, and a little white rice here and there is fine. I take a vitamin or two every day, just out of superstition, I think. The two drinks I have most every night, now, those are truly medicinal.

                                                I hate most fruit, unless it is baked in a pie. I eat pie whenever there is pie to be eaten, which is just as it should be.

                                                1. meat, eggs, nuts, veggies, fruit, 1 serving of dairy a day like greek yogurt or cheese. Oh and of course coffee and wine.

                                                  1. I have found that listening to what my body wants works so well for me. Over a week there will be no 2 days that are exactly the same. There will be one day when all I feel like is loads of raw veggies, fruit, salads and green tea and other days when I have a huge full English breakfast, a steak pie for lunch and then greasy takeaways for dinner. Yet another day will be a weird combo. The amounts vary as well. A few months ago I had a KFC meal and ate the whole thing in one sitting because I was ravenous. Last week I got the same meal and had it for dinner that night and had some for lunch and dinner the next day; this makes me realise that I'm not 'addicted' to these types of foods and my body is pretty reliable in telling what to have.

                                                    For example, yesterday for dinner I had a huge slab of home-made pork crackling and a huge broad bean and spring greens salad with lemon juice - because that's what I felt like. As long as over the course of a week I'm generally eating pretty healthily, I feel good. I find the overall weekly picture easier to maintain than a daily regimen.

                                                    I also find that having a drink of water when I think I'm hungry works really well for me because most of the time what I think are hunger pangs are actually thirst pangs.

                                                    1. I have to eat a relatively low fat diet to feel good (I don't digest it well... so a lot of it gives me a stomach ache, and a little bit makes me feel a bit bleh), and little to no dairy. I do well with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a bit of fish. I also like to get a fair bit of salt, because it makes me feel much more alert. I have fairly low blood pressure, so that isn't surprising.

                                                      My ideal diet would probably be similar to:
                                                      Breakfast: Oatmeal with cinnamon and lots of fruit and a cup of black coffee with cinnamon
                                                      Lunch: Sushi or rice with vegetables or soup. Black tea
                                                      Dinner: Whole wheat pasta with vegetables and maybe a bit of fish or an egg. Green tea
                                                      Snacks: Lots of fruit. Sweet potatoes. Pickles. Almond milk. Herbal tea at night.

                                                      Unfortunately, I adore all dairy, but am rather lactose intolerant. Sigh. It makes it hard to stick to my ideal diet. I tend to end up with some greek yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, etc.

                                                      1. I had never heard of "kaiseki" until it was talked about on Charlie Rose (PBS) lately, in his interview with David Bouley, whose new NYC restaurant, Brushstroke, utilizes this philosophy of eating. Developed by Japanese chefs after they visited French restaurant kitchens, it stages meals into numerous courses in a specific order designed to maximize healthfulness and satiety. For example, the meal starts with raw vegetables to get the digestive enzymes flowing, proceeds through soup to heavier courses. A fried protein course is followed by a vinegary one, to help process the fat. There is dessert (usually fruit-based) that is sweet, but light. This all strikes me as good sense, I have no idea if it has been subject to, and passed, proper scientific analysis.

                                                        1. i would eat fish at every meal if I could afford it. and of course there's some consciousness of "too much mercury." i should probably just ignore that and get back to my tuna in olive oil. an ideal day would be:
                                                          multigrain bread with almond butter, strong coffee with milk and some fruit
                                                          sushi lunch, including some rice and nori
                                                          sauteed fish, greens and yellow vegetable for dinner. occasional pasta sauce made with fish.

                                                          the reality is I eat fish only about 1x a week. :(