How Has Healthy Eating Changed Your Life?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This weekend, in addition to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I hosted a party for 50 people and attended my 10-year high school reunion. By Saturday night, I'd eaten my fair share of carbs and was craving vegetables.

My pre-reunion dinner was a bag of frozen broccoli topped with an egg and some cheese.

My 16-year-old sister had a friend over, and she gave me a weird look as I dug in to my overflowing bowl of green veg.

"How can you eat so much broccoli?" she asked incredulously.

"Easy," I replied. "If I don't eat enough vegetables, I get cranky after a day or so."

"She does," my mom echoed. "Believe me."

That wasn't always the case.

Back in the day, I fed myself with whatever. Sure, I liked vegetables, but I also liked fast food. I liked whole-wheat bread, but I also liked Nutella or butter smeared on top. I didn't really pay attention to what I ate.

But you know what I did notice? I noticed that I was tired, cranky, stressed and anxious more often than not. When I moved to South Korea and started paying more attention to my diet, I started to feel better.

After I ate that bowl of broccoli, I felt better. And then I started thinking about comfort food. Since adopting a healthy lifestyle, my idea of comfort food has changed drastically. Has it for you? Back in the day, comfort food meant mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, giant calzones or pizza, milkshakes, cheesy lasagna, fries dipped in mayo (OK, that's still a guilty pleasure occasionally), burgers with the works.

Now, I'm more likely to reach for a giant bowl of broccoli (topped with a bit of cheese or garlic, olive oil and lemon), black beans and rice with guacamole, roasted sweet potatoes, oatmeal or yogurt and granola when I crave "comfort food."

Before, I dealt with stomach issues, stress, anxiety and overall malaise.

Today, I feel healthier than ever, with more energy and optimism than I had even three years ago. Is it all attributed to my healthy diet? No, but a good portion of it is.

Whole foods: lean protein, fiber- and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grain, and a bit of low-fat dairy fuel my diet. Refined carbs, sugary sweets and caloric beverages are rarely present at mealtime or snacktime.

And I feel great!

Now I want to know how a change in your diet has affected you. How has healthy eating changed your life?

How do you feel when you eat healthy foods? What happens to you when you eat a high-fat meal or load up on empty calories? Is healthy eating still a struggle for you? If not, when and how did it become second nature? What changes have you made at home? Do you cook more than before? What healthy meals are your "go-to" favorites? What does your family think about eating healthier foods?

Eating right can have a powerful effect on our lives. So how has it changed yours?

Share your story in the comments below.

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Oh how I wish I could say I'm doing everything right now after 11 months on SP. However, I just finished a piece of Corner Bakery Cinnamon Pound Cake and a bowl of Blue Bell French Vanilla Ice Cream. It felt good while it was going down, but even before I finished (and yes, I finished it) I was feeling bloated and sluggish.

How do you feel when you eat healthy foods? Great!

What happens to you when you eat a high-fat meal or load up on empty calories? I feel lethargic and bloated.

Is healthy eating still a struggle for you? Sometimes, yes, but only because of lack of planning.

What changes have you made at home? No more junk food in the refrigerator or pantry! More fresh produce.

Do you cook more than before? Absolutely! We also have more "no need to cook" healthy meals.

What healthy meals are your "go-to" favorites? Brown rice with fish & veggies in the electric skillet.

What does your family think about eating healthier foods? They don't mind too much, but would prefer to have some of the old junk back in the house occasionally. Report
This is great! I feel so encouraged and hopeful when I read this blog and all of these comments! I look forward to the day that I can say the same things about my tastes changing from unhealthy to healthy! Great job everyone! Report
We went to a buffet yesterday for lunch. I had turkey breast, broccolini, green salad and roasted root vegetables. I noticed the difference in the plates of the other couple and my husband. My tastes have definately changed. My meal was delicious and I enjoyed every bite. As I looked at what the others had put on their plates, it didn't even look appitizing to me. Report
I try to cook healthy and eat healthy when we eat out. But sometimes fail. But I am getting better. Report
Helthy eating makes me feel so good, I have to look and see if my halo is glowing!!lol Report
Every oncein awhile I start getting cravings for things people don't normally consider craving foods - broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts usually. And when that happens I know I haven't been eating a balanced diet and my body is crying out for dark greens. And back in the day I used to try to get rid of the cravings by stuffing myself with junk food and whatever was on hand. Now, I kow I can get by with something healthier until I can buy the good foods, which will truly satisfy me so I don't overeat junk, which never made me feel better anyways. Report
Because of my job as a medical transcriptionist, my whole life I have been trying to eat healthy so I dont wind up like the people whose reports I type. However, several things made my nutrition even better. (1) The blood type diet. When I do not eat anything made from wheat, my sinuses are totally clear, my back does not hurt and I feel good. The opposite of when I eat wheat. (2) No sugar or low glycemic foods. When I do not eat sugar or low glycemic foods, I feel good, require less sleep and have more energy. (3) Counting calories here at SparkPeople. Even though I was eating pretty healthy, I was eating way too much, especially cheese! Report
After Thanksgiving my husband and I were on the road looking for something to eat. McDonald's, Whataburger, Subway, Taco Bell, all the generic fast food places came up. All I wanted was a salad.... a salad loaded down with veggies. Sure I could have gotten a salad at any of those places, but I insisted on finding a salad bar so I could load up on broccoli, cucumber, onions, peppers, and spinach. I did splurge though, I had a bit of cheese and got ranch dressing (that I put on the side).

I still have some cravings, I love ranch dressing, cheese, green bean casserole, pumpkin spice lattes... but I just can't stomach many of my old cravings (Fast food, fried chicken, brisket, etc). Report
Friends are surprised when I choose healthy items when eating out. They always say, "...oh, common...just one good meal won't hurt you.." But what they don't realize, is that I'd RATHER eat healthier than fatty meals. I enjoy them more. It's not because the guilt of eating bad foods, but I simply have learned to love the taste of fresh veggies, lean meats, whole grains, and low fat dairy. The bonus is how great my body feels after a healthy meal.

I do the same with snacks when we're out- I'd rather choose popcorn or frozen yogurt than the cookies and rich ice cream my friends are eating. They always try to change my mind for "only one time"...but I simply LOVE these good-for-you foods! It's truly a change in lifestyle. Report
When I found out I was diabetic two years ago I made a conscious choice to begin to eat right. By eating "right", I wanted to deliberately and intentionally begin to love what is good for me, and have the discipline to eat proper portions. Now, when I even look at a greasy fast food hamburger, I get queasy. Sweet desserts do not hold the appeal they once held for me; they actually make me feel physically sick. I have kept my A1C level at 5.5 for two years., and it is my intention and goal to live a long, healthy life through diet, exercise, and gratitude. Report
It's amazing to me how fried foods and fatty ones upset my stomach now, when I used to eat them with no problem. When I have a lot of whole grains, fruits, and veggies on the other hand, I feel great! Report
My husband and I don't even eat THAT healthily sometimes, but we can't wait to get back to normal after we go on vacation. It usually is road food and restaurants there. It feels great at first to be a little lax on healthy eating, but we arrive home and can't wait to get right back on track. Report
I eat to live and only eat enough to get me through the day and not through the week. Food is no longer the focus of my attention, now family, friends and my health have my full attention. Report
The biggest difference for me - it doesn't take nearly as much food as it used to for me to feel full! I eat pretty healthy 90% of the time, but when I indulge a bit on that other 10% I find I cannot eat very much of it or else I'll feel bleh.

Before, I had NO problem wolfing down bad-for-you foods. Report
When "forced" to eat in ways that aren't my healthy lifestyle, ie when work or travel make it hard to impossible at times, I can't wait to get back home to eat good foods! and I don't mean good vs bad, I mean the things I really love and crave like great salads, soups and low sodium entrees....everything in restaurants tastes so salty to me! Report
When I eat well, I have more energy and physically feel better. My husband jumped on the wagon, it improved his blood pressure, acid reflux and IBS. My favourite go to meal when I don't have much time is to microwave a couple of veggie burgers (no bun) with a large salad, only takes minutes. Report
I eat healthy 50% of the time and when I do, I feel great! No heartburn, no grogginess, heavy feeling of being stuffed, etc. So why don't I eat that way all the time? Too many excuses, no time to shop, family stress gets in the way, too much time spent on the computer, convincing myself I look good at this weight. Etc. I am hoping that with my committment to daily sparking this month will help me get on back onto the healthy track. I feel better. I desserts even don't taste that good anymore. I eat them out of habit. Even as I eat the cookie or whatever, I think to myself, this doesn't taste all that good. I need someone to smack me into giving up those tasteless desserts. And eat the healthy way. Report
Absolutely with you! If I don't eat enough fruits & vegetables, I get real cranky and go looking for them! Yesterday morning, met a friend in the grocery store. She had a cartful and I had a bag of apples, a bag of Roma tomatoes and 2 cartons of yogurt in my cart, LOL

How do you feel when you eat healthy foods? I feel sated, not overstuffed.

What happens to you when you eat a high-fat meal or load up on empty calories? I feel guilty for not treating my body well, and for not giving my body what it needs to function at its healthiest. I worry that I'm hurting myself from the inside out.

Is healthy eating still a struggle for you? It's not a struggle to eat healthy foods; it's a struggle to NOT eat the bad stuff. I eat the good stuff AND the bad stuff sometimes.

What changes have you made at home? I've made a ton of changes at home. I definitely cook healthier. I have four kids, and we now have many more home-cooked family meals than we used to. I have added fish once a week, rather than once a month, to our meal plan. I use only whole wheat pasta (I don't/won't binge on the whole wheat stuff - 1/2 c. does fill me up and satisfies me), we drink only skim milk and I've been teaching my kids about correct portion sizes (6 oz. of juice is not that much, compared to the 16 ounces my kids used to drink daily!).

What healthy meals are your "go-to" favorites? I live by my George Foreman grill, and use it several times a week to grill chicken, pork, or lean red meat. I loved baked sweet potatoes or regular potatoes (no pans to wash, either!), and those Steam Fresh frozen veggies (ditto on the "no pan" thing). What could be quicker and easier?

What does your family think about eating healthier foods? Sometimes my 14-year-old complains about the fish once-a-week thing, but she's not a big fish eater. She also complains that there aren't any "good" snacks in the house. That's because yogurt, nuts, six to eight kinds of fruit, veggies, Larabars, Kashi cereal bars, Triscuits, and pretzels aren't "good," in her opinion. Her brother, however (age 13) has no trouble getting out the peanut butter with his apple or banana after school. I say, "If you're really hungry, you will find something to eat; otherwise, you're just eating because your bored." Report
I feel 100% better since I have changed my eating.... I have been doing for quite some time now and when we are on the go and I end up eating fast food burger and fries? I feel like a bloated pig... I really do! Denise Austin use to say eat good 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time... it works well for me, so I can still enjoy a piece of pie or whatever in portion control once in a while. Report
Healthy eating has totally changed my life. I never realized how my "poor" nutritional intake effected my moods. I definitely ate foods that had way too much sugar, fat and salt. Now that I eat more healthfully, I do feel more upbeat and positive. I do have more energy. I do sleep better. I'm no spring chicken and yet I feel like I have the energy of a teenager. okay, that's most days. Some days, I do feel my age. ;)

No, I firmly believe I will live a longer, healthier and more productive life because I eat right. AND like Stephanie, some days, I crave vegetables more than chocolate !!! I never thought that something like that would happen. I love eating a leafy green salad.

It's taken time, but I've become a reformed junk food junkie.

Mayo with ketchsup mixed in---or ranch dressing for me---LOL but I understand, if I am having a bad week of eating I find myself craving veggies, too. Report
healthy eating makes it easyier for me to say no to the fast food, I eat smaller portions, have more energy and I feel so much better. Its great Report
What I have noticed is if I eat to much 'junk,' I will wake up the next day with a 'junk mouth,' similar to 'cotton mouth' when indulging in a little to much alcohol. Just a strange carb overload taste. Report
I am more aware of my portions along with eating healthy foods. Report
I always eat healthy now.. It has really changed me in many ways.. I love the way I feel & look.. Yes exercise is a big part of my healthy way too. Report
I definitely have more energy now.....I don't feel as sluggish when I eat a balanced diet. I struggle, though, because I have asthma and I am sick alot, especially with weather changes. I am frequently on antibiotics which really mess up my stomach. I am going through this right now. Nothing tastes good right now, so I just try to drink plenty of water. Report
It's funny, but I seem to CRAVE vegetables too-esp broccoli! I guess the biggest change for me is that before inhaling something mindlessly, I try to think about how nutritious it is for my body. Report
After approximately three months into this new lifestyle, I feel edgy if I can't get a workout in and I find myself automatically planning healthier menus. I still allow myself an unhealthy treat from time to time, like really good french fries, but that is rare. I realized that my taste buds have actually changed. Report
My favorite meal is broccoli, brown rice and sometimes pieces of grilled chicken breast. I feel good after a meal like this. During the Thanksgiving holidays I ate heavier foods and I felt bloated and sluggish all day. Healthier eating is definatly the right path. Report
Before, I ate really unhealthy and generally didn't eat any fruits or vegetables, but now I enjoy trying new things and expanding my horizons. When I eat too much of the foods I used to eat, I just feel lethargic and sometimes a little sick to my stomach. I was surprised to learn how many vegetables I really like...Who knew brussel sprouts were delicious? Report
Since I have been eating more healthy over the last 3 months or so, I have noticed a significant difference in my mood and have been able to deal with anxiety and stress much more easily. It becomes very obvious to me how much eating better really does improve my moods on a day after I don't stay on track. I'm much more irritable and depressed. Report
I feel eating healthier has given me a new lease on life. I have a lot more energy and my friends say my skin looks like I have been "de-toxed" and that I have a glow about me. I eat a lot more veggies and totally gave up soda. My comfort food choices are veggies with hummus, apple with peanut butter, green tea, celery, spinach (lots of it) and sweet potato. Who could ask for more??? Report
Short and sweet. I've lost 70 pounds. I'm off my cholesterol medications for a year now. My cholesterol levels keep going down and my HDL is going up. And though I still take a small bit of blood pressure medication, my blood pressure readings are continuously improving. Thank you, Spark People! Report
Last year, I was plagued by the following: Severe Anxiety/Panic Disorder, High Cholesterol, Heart Palpitations, Muscle Cramping, Headaches, Heartburn, and Fatty Liver.
Today, I am free of all of these.
Eating healthy has changed my mental state, my physical state, and my way of life. I truly think that my body was trying to tell me enough was enough. I am so glad I listened and learned how to eat more healthily! Report
I am a newbie and still miss eating everything unhealthy. I still do not trust myself to eat out. However, since eating healthy food and exercising, I no longer need to take medication for GERD and my asthma seems to be more in control. Those two things in themselves, along with losing weight are enough to keep me on the straight and narrow! Report
After eating all I wanted and never gaining it caught up with me. I have learned to eat broccoli and cauliflower and after having a garden I got to eating fresh green beans which now taste better than canned. I eat healthier and eat far less and still have energy. I also have more muscle in my body. I don't lead a stress filled life so if that's the cause I don't have gray hair at 60. Report
I use to suffer from IBS and other terrible stomach problems but since I stopped eating at fast food places, and eating fresh foods no more part I have lost 190.5 pounds.... I exercise 6 at least 6 days a week, I started running at age 56..can I say anything else but pass me a crisp juicey apple please ......or a bowl of broccoli hold the cheese. Report
It is said that Louis Pasteur, on his deathbed, equivocated on his germ theory by uttering, "Seed is nothing, soil is everything." I feel that my diet protects me from a variety of illnesses, and I know that it has helped me fight a couple of autoimmune disorders that plague me, especially Hashimoto's and Eczema. Report
A big smile on my face, Stepf! What is it about vegetables? I just said to my husband the other day, "I don't know why I don't eat right all the time! When I eat veggies - and lots of them - I feel so much happier and more energetic." I feel best on a high veg, lower fruit, lower complex-carb diet...with adequate protein. There's no diet I follow; it's just a way of eating that tastes good and feels better :) Report
I don't always eat healthy but when I do my sugar count is what it should be...when it is high I getting very sleepy OR I am wide what;s wrong with that you say? Being wide awake at bedtime is NOT what you want or need to do.Eating healthy all the time is what I NEED to get into..sweets are my biggest downfall Report
I am more likely to reach for a healthy snack now (fruit, yogurt, etc.) since I don't keep junk in the house and I don't like going to the vending machine at work. I still eat a lot of sweets, mainly ice cream and gelato, but I am slowly learning to cut back. My vices are still pizza and some comfort foods like pasta. I try to stick to whole wheat and whole grains and I cook more now than I ever have. I think making my own food, from breakfast through dinner and snacks, I have realized how much junk is in prepared food and how much better fresh tastes. If I relied on frozen or prepared foods I don't think I would be doing so well with my diet. Report
Is it possible that different bodies are healthier with different diets? A year ago I needed to lose 50 lbs and joined SparkPeople and for four months followed your recommended diets and lost four pounds, was depressed, not enjoying meals or anything else. Then I discovered the Atkins site and decided to try it (I had done it years before and it had worked). Over the last eight months I have lost 45 more pounds, gradually, feel great, look even better, have lots of energy for my two jobs and life is wonderful. My body seems happy with the elimination of pasta, rice, potatoes and white bread pretty well from my life and very limited fruit and not too many veggies. My blood pressure is down and I haven't been this healthy in years. But according to SparkPeople's advice, that shouldn't be. I don't understand but I am grateful for all the tools on this site that have done so much for me. Report
Makes me feel better - now if I go off track I feel it. Report
I just started on my healthy diet this summer and have noticed a big change. I feel better and have more energy. I find that usually I don't crave the fast food anymore. If I do have to go to a fast food place for some reason, I go for the salads with grilled meat, get the lowest fat dressing they have, and use about half the packet. When I go home I also go the the fast food place's online site to get the nutrition information. most of them have that I know now what some of them are and can make the healthy choices. I don't go to those very often though. I do have a weak spot once in a while if I'm at a buffet, but then will realize afterward that it wasn't as good as I once thought it was. That doesn't happen often either. Before I used to live for those kind of places. I feel so much better now. Report
It's really hard for me to say how much healthy eating has changed my life, because at the same time that I started eating more organic produce (we're already vegetarians who eat primarily whole grains, fruits and veggies and mostly low fat dairy products) I also began doing yoga and Pilates regularly in addition to the walking I already did. But, my health and particularly my strength and balance have improved significantly, and my chronic health problem seems to be improving, although the doctors said it probably wouldn't! I am one very happy camper! Report
Sometimes I still do crave the bad food, like chips, peanuts, and desserts (cakes, pies, bars, cookies). So when I bake I use healthy ingredients like Splenda, egg whites, ww flour and I get my sweet fix and DH eats it too. When I do eat the bad foods though (not as often as before) I get a feeling of nausea. I try to not do it again. My go to comfort food is Zucchini Chips. I just love them. Report
I am now eating 3 healhy meals a day with healthy snacks and it has improved how I feel physically and mentally. Report
Since eating heather i also find myself craving veggies and fruits. I still crave the junk foods, chocolates and cookies but not as often as i use to. Report
I look forward to the time when I will actually crave healthy foods instead of sugary, sweet stuff like I usually eat. Report