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.

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.



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.



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?