Last updated: Apr 13, 2010


Before I found my Feel Great Weight, I tried every diet out there. From South Beach to Atkins, I was all about a diet with a regimented meal plan. And while initially I would lose weight, I was never able to keep it off. The culprit? Forcing myself to eat foods that just weren't right for my body.

While I can't say I liked sticking to restrictive diets, they did teach me something about myself. Sure, I could follow specific eating plans for a short while, but these foods weren't really fueling my body. Initially, that scared me. If I veered off the egg white and burger sans bun path, how could I possibly eat foods I liked without gaining weight? So I assessed what I was eating on those diets—plus why those meals left me unsatisfied—and made some tweaks to my everyday diet.

The end result? I'm at my goal weightand I'm eating foods I love that leave me full of energy. Here's how I moved beyond diet foods and found the right fuel for my lifestyle.

Breakfast
Dieters choice: Egg whites with steamed asparagus

Not quite: I'm a morning exerciser, so after throwing together egg whites and steamed asparagus and quickly doing the dishes, I was completely frazzled during my commute to work. And while I love a good omelet on the weekends, this breakfast was a little low in protein (thanks to the missing yolks) and completely carb deficient, so I was always ravenous by the time I got to my desk.

Just right: Oatmeal. I started eating the instant packets because they were easy to pack for my commute. I could easily eat one at my desk, stretching out the time between breakfast and lunch. Plus, it's quick, easy, and budget-friendly. I never get bored with eating the same thing day after day because I experiment with different ingredients in my oatmeal—raisins, nuts, berries, and peanut butter (hello, protein!). Oatmeal satisfies me for hours and, more importantly, I enjoy eating it. In fact, I like it so much, I still eat it almost every morning for breakfast.



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Lunch
Dieters choice: Fruit smoothie

Not quite: I was never really satisfied. I loved the idea of eating multiple servings of fresh fruits and veggies at once, but I never felt content after drinking my meal. I missed the act of chewing my food. Plus, I realized that I like eating lots of different components in my lunch to feel satisfied.

Just right: A big salad filled with all of my favorite raw veggies, an individual serving of Greek yogurt with a 1/4 cup of cereal and nuts stirred in, and a piece of fresh fruit. Yes, you really can eat all that for the same amount of calories as the smoothie! And better yet, I feel much more satisfied when I eat lots of different tastes and textures. Plus, the yogurt is a sweet ending to my meal, which means that I'm not left craving dessert.



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Dinner
Dieters choice: Burger (minus the bun), steamed broccoli, and a side salad

Not quite: How boring! Steaming veggies made them taste like diet food and ditching the hamburger bun made me miss my beloved carbohydrates—they're not all bad!

Just right: Grilled veggie burger with a whole-wheat bun, homemade sweet potato fries, and a side salad. Carbs get a bad rap, but I realize that I need healthy carbs with filling fiber to feel satisfied. Plus, eating a few servings of vegetables—in the veggie burger and on the side— fills me right up and keeps me satisfied for hours. Occasionally I'll swap out the fries for a side of roasted vegetables, which have so much more flavor than the steamed stuff!

What diet foods just didn't work for you? What keeps you satisfied and full of energy?

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.