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How's Your Diet?

Do we have any foodies or health advocates on these forums?

I've been thinking about my diet lately, how it's lousy, and how I often feel pretty sick.

No, I'm not fat; I'm about 5'9", 160lbs, with about a 34" waist. Still envious of otherwise average people who actually just happen to have six-pack abdomens, though.

I do end up eating some pretty horrendous junk through the course of my day, and subsequently feel drained of any energy or motivation because of it.

For lunch, I might go with a few slices of pizza (maybe 2-4?), a couple of hot dogs, scrambled eggs, a bowl of chicken noodle soup, OR a Subway sandwich - definitely not all those things in one sitting, though!

For dinner, I might get Chinese, or end up cooking some meat (chicken, pork, or beef) and vegetables (carrots and celery) myself. Don't really care for fish.

For a midday snack, I might end up having chocolate chip cookies, or potato chips.

Been experimenting with some different fruit juices - and while they're good, and probably even good for you - I know that's still not enough.

The whole point is, I know I need to improve my diet, but how?

I usually can't eat things straight-up, otherwise it's bland - I have to have something coated in some sort of sauce - usually ketchup, or whatever sauce my Chinese comes with.

Can't stand salad-dressing though, stuff's too acidic for my tastes, and is the main reason I can't stand eating salad.

Last edited by Dartannian (Jan 22, 2012)

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Re: How's Your Diet?

You know, I never get actually fsick but my diet often makes me just feel /bleh/, The problem is I'm very picky, and 'good' stuff tends to be expensive. I've been trying to a little bit cut down on stuff that has tons of crap added (even to the point of buying block cheese instead of shredded) but it's still very hard to not indulge...

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Re: How's Your Diet?

I've found that processed carbs suck out my energy like nothing else. Cutting back on them drastically has really helped my productivity. So, here's what I got:

First, you didn't mention breakfast here. Some people skip it. I don't recommend it. For me, it just makes me more ravenous at lunch and I'm more tempted to cheat and eat things I really shouldn't. Eggs are a great way to start the day. Or a cereal with low sugar and lots of fiber.

Dartannian wrote:

For lunch, I might go with a few slices of pizza (maybe 2-4?), a couple of hot dogs, scrambled eggs, a bowl of chicken noodle soup, OR a Subway sandwich - definitely not all those things in one sitting, though!

Pizza is pretty bad for you and should be thought of more as an occasional treat, if you're serious about eating better. Depending on the toppings, it's loaded with fat and calories. Hot dogs are okay, as long as you ditch the bun (or better yet, get whole grain ones). It's impossible to go wrong with eggs in general. Same with soup, as long as it's not too high in sodium.

A few other suggestions: Turkey or chicken sandwich, on whole grain bread, any veggie topping. I like using cottage cheese (or yogurt) as a side dish. Lots of protein and very satisfying.

For dinner, I might get Chinese, or end up cooking some meat (chicken, pork, or beef) and vegetables (carrots and celery) myself. Don't really care for fish.

Americanized Chinese is pretty awful for you. The sauces are loaded with sugar and a lot of their dishes are deep-fried. Cooking the meat yourself is the best bet, as long as you're not smothering the stuff in oil. Red meat can be fattening and should be eaten less often than poultry. Add turkey to your diet too. It's delicious. I can't stand fish either.

For a midday snack, I might end up having chocolate chip cookies, or potato chips.

You can make the biggest changes to your energy level right here. Try veggies instead, like celery sticks or carrots. Hummus is great to dip into, as is reduced-fat ranch. Fruit too, like berries, oranges, grapefruit, bananas. Lots of options there. If you need protein instead, a small handful of nuts is another great option (but a SMALL handful. The calories add up quickly). Or mozzarella cheese sticks.

Been experimenting with some different fruit juices - and while they're good, and probably even good for you - I know that's still not enough.

Pure sugar. Fruit sugar granted, but sugar none-the-less. You're better off consuming the fruit instead. More filling, less calories and all of the nutrients. If you drink soda, switch to diet. Better yet, drink more water. If the taste is too bland (as it is for me), put some lemon juice in it.

I usually can't eat things straight-up, otherwise it's bland - I have to have something coated in some sort of sauce - usually ketchup, or whatever sauce my Chinese comes with.

Ketchup is loaded with sugar. If you must have it, get the reduced sugar stuff. It tastes more or less the same. Mustard's even better.

Can't stand salad-dressing though, stuff's too acidic for my tastes, and is the main reason I can't stand eating salad.

There's different options, if you can't stand the vinegar-based dressings. Reduced-fat ranch, caesar... Salad's really good for you, especially if you toss healthy meats in there and don't smother it with fattening dressings and cheeses.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Good suggestions so far!

Just found out that Mott's apple sauce has high fructose corn syrup in it.

Hardest part about eating healthy is the stuff that pretends to be healthy, but really isn't!

I know Whole Foods Market has had its share of lawsuits as to what it represents as being healthy; looking into a number of independently-owned local super markets for alternatives; even looking into growing some of my own fruit and produce.

Learning how to examine some of the nutritional data on the side of packaging contents; what does serving size mean, anyway? Is that the amount you should limit yourself to per meal, or the amount you should limit yourself to in the course of a 24-hour DAY?

Sure, I had classes about health and nutrition in grade school and high school, but they never taught them very seriously. Easiest "A" a person could get.

Last edited by Dartannian (Jan 22, 2012)

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Dartannian wrote:

Good suggestions so far!

Just found out that Mott's apple sauce has high fructose corn syrup in it.

Hardest part about eating healthy is the stuff that pretends to be healthy, but really isn't!

Yup. There's some 100% natural apple sauce out there and that's what I'd recommend.

I know Whole Foods Market has had its share of lawsuits as to what it represents as being healthy; looking into a number of independently-owned local super markets for alternatives; even looking into growing some of my own fruit and produce.

Whole Foods is also horrifically expensive. If you have the option to grow your own stuff (I don't, living in an apartment), go for it!

Learning how to examine some of the nutritional data on the side of packaging contents; what does serving size mean, anyway? Is that the amount you should limit yourself to per meal, or the amount you should limit yourself to in the course of a 24-hour DAY?

Per meal, in general.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Dude, I love food. It's my main vice.

On the otherhand I don't smoke or drink.

I think we all do one thing that'll kill us faster in the end.

It's a race... beat you there!!!

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Re: How's Your Diet?

I am thinking about these things lately too, I don't have the best diet. I am reading a book called, 'The American Way of life need not be hazardous to your health' it was written in the late 70s by the founder and director of the Stanford Heart Disease Prevention program, and it is pretty comprehensive, but also realistic. It encompasses all the major lifestyle aspects that lead to heart diesase/heart attacks which are statistically very high in the US (at least in the 70s! Probably worse now): Stress, exercise, healthy diet and quitting smoking (if you smoke). One of the points he makes in the book is that you need to work on every area. Even if you are fit and exercise you can still get a heart attack if you usually eat fatty foods. Alternatively, even if you have a good diet, you still need to address the other areas that put you at risk of heart attack: stress, exercise and smoking.

As far as diet goes, usually common sense goes a long way. Everything already posted already seems legit, except eggs are actually high in cholesterol and should be eaten in moderation (fun fact: the protein of the egg is mostly in the white, and the cholesterol is mostly in the yolk). However, one thing I like about the book is that it mostly emphasizes a realistic implementation plan. It starts with recording what you eat for a week or so (which you seem to have done), then identify areas you can improve, then make a commitment to improve incrementally with self-contracts that involve the participation of someone who can check up with you.

Anyway, I'm not up to the food chapter yet, and just flipping through it, it is very comprehensive! So my only encouragement is to make small changes that you can realistically accomplish, and after a few weeks of maintenance, look for a slightly bigger change you can implement, keep the long-run in mind, don't be discouraged if you slip, and also remember the other health areas that need attention: stress-reduction and exercise.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Yotsuya wrote:

Stress, exercise, healthy diet and quitting smoking (if you smoke).

I myself never smokes but I've often heard that quitting smoking tends to increase one's weight. Don't know, and it's a healthier choice anyway.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

I follow a lifestyle that's in line with my values: Vegan, gluten-free (best for my body), organic whenever possible, no artificial additives (flavorings, preservatives, coloring, high fructose corn syrup, etc.). I also follow a whole food-centered diet, meaning that I try to only eat packaged foods in very small amounts. My meals are centered around real food from the earth: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains (quinoa, oats, rice), beans and legumes. I found that this lifestyle works best for me mentally and physically; I'm not clouded mentally and I have been staying fit and have not been putting on any needless weight. I'm hovering between 145 and 150 and have low BMI. I also have high energy levels and don't feel "weighed down" after eating - no food comas for me.

Wanderer has some great points, but I would not recommend switching to diet soda (it's basically a bottle of chemicals) and would just say to drink water instead, or to have some lightly sweetened beverages, like iced tea with a hint of natural sugar. Lemon juice and water works well, too. Make sure you never skip breakfast! Oatmeal (homemade, not this heavily sugared instant crap) or some fresh fruit is a great way to start the day.

Going on the OP's comment about needing to drown things in sauces: this is likely because so much processed food is completely full of sugars, fats and salts that everything else seems bland because your taste buds are used to being assaulted. If you eat more natural foods, your taste buds will adjust. I thought this was total bullshit when I first heard it. I was on a SAD (standard American diet), and often had all kinds of candy and soda and processed foods to sustain myself. After I started eating whole foods I thought that vegetables were bland unless loaded with salt, and fruit wasn't sweet enough. After a couple of weeks it was the opposite. If I tried to go back to candy or packaged snack foods it was like I was completely being inundated with the sweeteners and salts. It's not an easy transition if you're used to a certain type of food (I mean, you have to enjoy what you eat), but it is well worth it for your body's sake.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Zane wrote:

I follow a lifestyle that's in line with my values: Vegan, gluten-free (best for my body), organic whenever possible, no artificial additives (flavorings, preservatives, coloring, high fructose corn syrup, etc.). I also follow a whole food-centered diet, meaning that I try to only eat packaged foods in very small amounts.

I recommend removing the packaging on any food before consuming it, lest you wind up with a nickname like mr. Plasticpoop or Saran Crap..

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Re: How's Your Diet?

I generally have a very small breakfast (just enough to keep my stomach from eating itself), a small lunch, a banana as an afternoon snack, and then a sizable dinner.  I'm well aware that this is not how you're supposed to do it in order to feel good during the day, but feasting after a hard day's work is how I was raised, and I have no intention of stopping now.  I don't eat any fast food other than Subway, I don't drink soda (only water, tea, and beer/wine), and I usually cook baked chicken with spices (no sauces) that I serve with rice and veggies.  My biggest problems come when I'm too lazy to cook and get something with insanely high sodium and fat content like pizza or Chinese food (I rarely have the former, but I'm a sucker for the latter).  I also eat way too much food when I visit my parents.  It's healthy, home-cooked food, but I really need to go less nuts when I'm there.

Last edited by XLord007 (Jan 23, 2012)

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My eating habits are somewhere between Dartannian's and Zane's, a bit closer to Dartannian actually.  I eat junk food every so often but my taste in beverages helps a lot.. I only drink water and black coffee.  If I do drink anything else, it'll be orange juice or unsweetened almond milk (which I highly recommend!), never soda.  I hate artificial sweeteners and I avoid them like the plague, which they might actually be related to.  They're all terrible for you and they taste like crap, especially aspartame.. yuuuuck.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

It seems to me the two things that do most Americans in diet-wise are what they drink and what they snack on.  Cutting out sodas and juices and sticking to purely natural drinks (water, tea, milk, coffee, a beer or wine or two) is the simplest thing you can do and would make a pretty big difference I imagine.  100% fruit juice isn't bad per se but I'd be careful not to consider it a major source of nutrition as eating whole fruit instead gives you more fiber and is more filling.

As for snacks I'd say the more pre-packaged, processed stuff you can cut the better.  Replace potato chips and Chips Ahoy with sandwiches, salads, nuts, fruits, or yogurt.

I'd try to experiment a bit more with different salad dressings.  I used to not like salad dressing either but since eating at some nicer places have found some much more palatable choices.

I don't cook much myself but in America especially if you want to stay in good health that's the way to go obviously.  Every time I go back I'm amazed at how difficult it is to get good, healthy food in reasonable portions eating out.  So many more healthy choices in Japan (and in most parts of Europe as well, I would imagine).

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Easiest thing for me to do was stop drinking soda. Empty calories and I actually like how water tastes anyway, so it wasn't too big a sacrifice. Occasionally drinking soda is much more rewarding than making it a daily beverage. Diet sodas are the work of the devil: They taste like ass and they're even more addictive than regular soda, even with 0 calories. In some foods, I swear I can feel the chemicals telling me to crave more food (popsicles come immediately to mind).

Overall, I've added veggies to my diet, but the problem is I'm adding them in instead of substituting them for other, less healthy foods. Work in progress, but getting to the point where I look forward to making a side of broccoli is a step in the right direction. Baby steps for me...Not eating too much, cutting a portion here, raising one there, watching sodium (less sodium, more taste), watching trans fats, adding eggs to my breakfast. More or less, I've gotten to the point where I just listen to what my body is asking for and try to eat what it wants.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Dartannian wrote:

The whole point is, I know I need to improve my diet, but how?

Disassociate eating with pleasure. In time, your taste buds will adapt to a bland diet. Plain hard-boiled eggs and almonds can be quite tasty, if you eat turkey sandwiches on wheat bread with no cheese or sauce. I did that for 7 months and my abs looked astonishing; they were very clearly defined.

I did zero cardio work - not even one inch of running. You can control the definition of your body solely through diet. One myth that has thoroughly penetrated the collective public mind is that exercise helps one lose weight. Wrong. Exercise helps one gain weight by adding more muscle. The correct mindset to have is that eating helps one lose weight. The more you eat the more you lose.

The trick is to eat 6 small meals every day. Never go more than 2 hours without eating. This fires up your metabolism and lets you burn calories without time consuming cardio.

If you can't improve your diet with regular food, then make sure to take supplements. You should probably do this even if you have access to healthy food. I spend $1200 per year on supplements, which includes: vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B12, selenium, lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, lecithin, krill oil, fish oil, curcumin, pcynogenol, and joint specific supplements. Lutein and zeaxanthin have worked wonders for my vision. At age 30, the floaters were so bad that I had trouble driving and couldn't enjoy movies. So I have aggressively been taking supplements for vision - and they work. Money well spent. (I also have a scotoma in my left retina, which is a very bad thing.)

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Jodo Kast wrote:

Lutein and zeaxanthin have worked wonders for my vision. At age 30, the floaters were so bad that I had trouble driving and couldn't enjoy movies. So I have aggressively been taking supplements for vision - and they work.

I've always had perfect vision, but have been developing floaters myself these past couple of years. Are these supplements specifically effective for floaters? Any other recommendations? Mine aren't as terrible as what you describe, but they are distracting.

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how does vision in any way relate to whether you are making floaters or sinkers? i thought this thread was about what you eat.

Last edited by longhairmike (Jan 26, 2012)

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Jodo Kast wrote:

I did zero cardio work - not even one inch of running. You can control the definition of your body solely through diet. One myth that has thoroughly penetrated the collective public mind is that exercise helps one lose weight. Wrong.

It's not uncommon nowadays to hear people say that exercise doesn't necessarily help one lose weight.  Which may be true but that line of thinking seems to ignore the potential benefits of exercise to the cardiovascular system.  Have to wonder if that's a good thing.

If you can't improve your diet with regular food, then make sure to take supplements. You should probably do this even if you have access to healthy food.

I can't help but be skeptical about supplements.  There've been studies suggesting possible *adverse* effects from supplements like vitamin D have there not?  Having a balanced, natural diet that covers all the nutritional bases seems the safest bet to me.

If a specific supplement was noticeably improving an aspect of my health I'd probably keep taking it though. big_smile

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Smeg wrote:

I've always had perfect vision, but have been developing floaters myself these past couple of years. Are these supplements specifically effective for floaters? Any other recommendations? Mine aren't as terrible as what you describe, but they are distracting.

My eye doctor said that those supplements may help to prevent macular degeneration. Why they have helped my floaters is not known and could be coincidental. They probably just broke up to the point of no longer being visible. Either way, those nutrients are difficult to get from regular food. I would have to eat something like 2 pounds of spinach for an equivalent amount of zeaxanthin. Plus, one of the eye formulas has bilberry extract, which was used in WWII to help improve soldiers' night vision.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Adam Corn wrote:

I can't help but be skeptical about supplements.  There've been studies suggesting possible *adverse* effects from supplements like vitamin D have there not?  Having a balanced, natural diet that covers all the nutritional bases seems the safest bet to me.

If a specific supplement was noticeably improving an aspect of my health I'd probably keep taking it though. big_smile

Vitamin D can be poisonous if taken in unimaginably high dosages. Your skin makes 10,000 IU in 15 minutes when exposed to intense sunlight. It won't make more than that because your skin burns. Vitamin D supplements usually offer 1000 IU dosages, which is 1/10 what your body naturally makes. Nature's Bounty is the only supplement company I know of that makes 10,000 IU dosages.

Almost all supplements have toxicity levels. I believe that one of the B vitamins has no known toxicity  level, since your body rids it quickly through urine (it will be bright yellow). Of course, all food has toxicity levels. Even salt and water can be toxic, if the right dosage is consumed.

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Jodo Kast wrote:

I believe that one of the B vitamins has no known toxicity  level, since your body rids it quickly through urine (it will be bright yellow).

That's B5, I know cause I take 2000 mg every day.  Sometimes my pee is lime green, also known as Mountain Dew. smile

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Re: How's Your Diet?

My question to everyone, then, is: What's a good way to quit soft drinks?

I drink water, milk, orange juice, tea, coffee, wine, but still can't seem to get off soft drinks.

As a matter of fact, I actually tried to about 6 years ago, cold turkey, and I had these horrible headaches until I started drinking the stuff again; they say cola is a drug that you can get addicted to. Now I know why.

Went shopping at the organic food aisle of my local supermarket a day or two ago. I got snack foods, but they're organic: Organic potato chips, organic graham crackers, organic cheddar, Kashi organic granola bars (is Kashi really supposed to be good, healthy stuff?) and even got some flax seed crackers. Flax seed is apparently very popular with health advocates, apparently. Oh yeah, even organic ketchup!

Had some serious tea today, though; felt completely detoxified from all that artificial/processed stuff I usually eat.

Last edited by Dartannian (Feb 2, 2012)

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Re: How's Your Diet?

Dartannian wrote:

My question to everyone, then, is: What's a good way to quit soft drinks?

I drink water, milk, orange juice, tea, coffee, wine, but still can't seem to get off soft drinks.

As a matter of fact, I actually tried to about 6 years ago, cold turkey, and I had these horrible headaches until I started drinking the stuff again; they say cola is a drug that you can get addicted to. Now I know why.

Cold turkey is the best way to quit just about anything.  You just have to deal with the headaches until your body adjusts.  Alternatively, I suppose you could create your own step down plan where you attempt to drink less and less each day, but it's probably less effective.

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I stopped drinking soda because I just stopped enjoying it - wasn't really quenching my thirst, couldn't drink a lot or else I would get headaches and it made my teeth hurt sometimes. Water felt more refreshing, so was easy to go to that. But again, I find drinking soda on occasion enhances the taste...As an everyday drink, it had become rather bland.

I had similar headaches trying to get off coffee. They last for a couple days and they are really bad, so set aside a quiet weekend to be absolutely miserable for a solid detox. I believe it is the body basically cleansing itself of the caffeine. One thing I immediately noticed when I was off most caffeine drinks for about 3 days: My hearing became a lot sharper. Whenever I go back on coffee, I can feel my hearing range decreasing now.

Also figure you probably save about 400-500 extra calories by swapping water for soda, so I'm not afraid to, say, slip an extra piece of cake or a candy bar in there now.

A quick question: Anyone have an opinion on ginkgo? I've been swapping 90mg for coffee in the mornings and I've noticed a real improvement. Mostly gets the blood kicking in the morning, almost like a "natural" caffeine rush. There is a bit of a fade around 2 oclock, but it's a gradual crash, not a hard one like coffee. Also, I think it makes me burn energy, because I get really hungry at mealtime (unlike caffeine, where you're not really hungry, but you just kind of eat because it's there) My mood has generally been better since starting it as well.

Last edited by GoldfishX (Feb 2, 2012)

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