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JonnyCeltics's avatar

What can I change in my diet to feel better?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2690 points ) December 9th, 2013

Hiya. I’m looking for a diet makeover—not necessarily to lose weight, but rather to feel better. I’d appreciate your input very much.

I’m a generally healthy eater, but lately—and come to think of it, for a while now—I’ve been having some serious gas, and feeling lethargic.

Some considerations: I think that I may be lactose intolerant, at least a little bit; and I also believe that my body doesn’t process fruits and vegetables as well as it could/should. I also believe that the weather, for example when it’s overcast, affects my energy levels. Something feels just… off.

Here’s my general diet:
—Breakfast – oatmeal, eggs, cheese, veggies, sometimes a bagel and cream cheese, lox (I do live in NYC…) :)

—Lunch/dinner: lots of raw veggies, like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado w toast and sea salt, chicken (cooked breast on a cast iron w/ spices), spinach, green beans, Brussels, fish (e.g. Trader Joe’s frozen fish), beans, sometimes rice.

—Misc: cashews and almonds, coffee w ½ and ½ in the morning; sometimes some chocolate or candy, but not so often; lots of gum. I also smoke cigarettes sometimes (maybe 2 a day). My exercise is sporadic—either 3 or 4 times/week, or not at all. I’m an average weight, maybe a bit heavy (6 feet, 200 lbs.).

Thoughts? Happy to answer questions.

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22 Answers

rockfan's avatar

Your diet is really good, but smoking? That can bascially undo all of your healthy eating.

Some other foods you might want to consider adding to your diet are:

Apple cider vinegar
Quinoa
Millet
Flaxseed
Kale
Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Lowfat Cottage Cheese
Sweet Potatoes
Beets
Squash
Salmon

JonnyCeltics's avatar

Smoking can undo all of the healthy eating? I suppose you’re right…

rockfan's avatar

@JonnyCeltics Yeah all the foods you’re eating are extremely heart healthy, but smoking can affect the arteries in your heart.

deni's avatar

Your diet sounds really healthy and better than most peoples, but if you think you are not processing fruits and veggies well, then thats a big problem cause you seem to eat a lot of them and if they aren’t digesting right I could see why you’d constantly feel sluggish….it seems like a lot of the foods youre eating contain at least a pretty decent amount of fiber, but I agree that adding flax seeds could be advantageous. Otherwise, if I were you, and I ate this way and still felt crappy, I’d see a doctor to figure out if there’s something going on in your digestion process. Nothing else seems to be off.

Unbroken's avatar

Lol at first I thought you were describing your daily intake for one food. Have you considered cooking your veggies, some nutrients are more bioavailable when cooked though it is a controversial topic.

It is also good to pair oatmeal with flax or berries and nuts. More fiber but it also slows the insulin rush from the fairly simple carbs leading to spikes in energy to dump with early food cravings.
Those who eat oatmeal for breakfast might consume more food in all during a day foe that reason.

Also pairing a protein with all fruit is good for the maintenance if energy, if you want energy fast like before a work out or after you can eat just plain fruit then.

It does not sound like you get a lot of b vitamins vitamin d in your diet. You removed a lot of fortified foods, not a lot of carbs, which can be fine because moat food has carbs and you also make your own but they are also fillers and nutrients can be found in the more uncommon ones. Buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth… Also if you get chilled quickly this could be a sign you might be a little short.

Energy nutrients people are commonly short on d bs and aminoacids: mushrooms have vitamin d but you didn’t mention that. You probably get iron from the cast iron skillet.

Another thing which was my problem was I was told I wasn’t consuming enough protein. Your body doesn’t produce or store it. So you need to make sure you get I think it was at least 7 or was it 21 grams in each meal.

Easiest of all take out dairy for a week week and a half. See how you feel.

kritiper's avatar

Eat more protein, like eggs and be sure to get 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day.

dabbler's avatar

Raw veggies are famous for producing gas in vegetarians. Try cooking them, or at least blanching them. Also maybe try some probiotics supplement from the health food store to aid digestion.

talljasperman's avatar

Drink more clean water. Not just when you are thirsty.

Unbroken's avatar

Oh varied diets and monounsatured fats are good too.

I forgot to say in dairy there is lactose intolerance, casein allergies, and whey…

Different products have different levels, and an IGG response won’t necessarily show up right away. Lactose is the most common. So this might contribute to confusion on the subject.

Cupcake's avatar

I feel crappy when I eat oatmeal. It’s yummy and healthy… but I’m tired and grumpy after eating it 100% of the time.

A bagel has a ton of carbs. It’s the equivalent of like 4 slices of bread. That would make me feel lethargic.

Not everyone does well with beans. Also the fake sugar in gum causes gas.

Exercise regularly. Even if only 1–2 times per week… do it every week. Drink lots of water, especially when you have coffee. Try cutting out all milk/cheese products. Keep a food/mood diary.

ibstubro's avatar

I agree that all the raw veggies are probably producing the gas. Avoid peelings, especially tomato peels and green peppers. They are notorious for causing colon (there, I said it) problems.

Honestly, it sounds to me as if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If you have health insurance, you should probably ask your Dr. for a referral to a specialist. Sometimes IBS is treatable, sometimes not.

Have you tried Probiotics? Available OTC as an IBS treatment, or edible in foods, like yogurt. If not, start there.

Cook your veggies (you can save the water and reduce it, if you’re worried about the nutrients. Freeze and one day you’ll have one hell of a soup stock!)
Add protein (like salmon).
Buy probiotics in some form and give them a try.

You’ve already taken the first step to health, in my experience, and given up meat. That helped, but as I age, it’s not enough. When I got the diagnosis of IBS I was already a vegetarian using milk and eggs. They gave me a diet plan consisting of grossly over cooked veggies and MEAT. Perhaps we’ve shot ourselves in the foot, avoiding meat?

Seek's avatar

Chewing gum can make you gassy.

Seriously. You swallow a lot of air doing that.

Other than that, I’m jealous of your diet (ignoring the smoking thing, since you’ve already been soundly reprimanded.)

JonnyCeltics's avatar

These are all excellent answers, thanks everybody!

JonnyCeltics's avatar

What about red meat? Can that have a gassy/low-energy effect?

JonnyCeltics's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr that’s crazy, that chewing gum can make you gassy. I chew a ton of it (to allay the smoking tendencies).

Seek's avatar

Also bear in mind that sugarless gum is sweetened with xylitol, which is a laxative.

Unbroken's avatar

But xylitol is thought to be good for mouth hygiene as touted by the ADA.

Red meat does not normally create gas. It can be a source of iron and have healthy fats in reasonable quantities.

Although the beef that comes from big farms and fed tons of corn has personally caused me problems, when I get local grass fed beef the problems subside. So trying both might be helpful.

Seek's avatar

Good for mouth hygiene sure. It’s still a laxative.

talljasperman's avatar

You can drink a replacement drink like Boost once a day.

Unbroken's avatar

I’m not arguing it is. Though it would seemingly require a lot of gum, possible swallowing and chewing with mouth open, in my opinion, to merit heavy gas.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Firstly, I won’t lecture you on smoking, as a lot of us have unhealthy habits (like soda pop – just saying). Lactose intolerance can cause gas, and raw veggies too. Since you are eating a lot of dairy and a lot of raw veggies, it could be either or both. When I am bloated with gas, I feel like death so the gas could be your problem. I would suggest that you stay away from known gas-producing veggies, like cucumbers and beans. If you still have the problem, cut out the dairy, and see how that works for you.

occ's avatar

If you’re feeling gassy and suspect you might be lactose intolerant, the first thing you should do is cut all dairy entirely for 1 week and see what happens. Make only that change first, so you can see if you feel different and if that’s the cause. I find that vanilla almond milk is delicious in my oatmeal as a replacement. Unfortunately there’s really no good substitute for half and half in coffee but you should be able to go without it for just one week to test things. FYI lactose intolerance is very common in people who don’t have Northern European heritage.

Oh, and definitely give up those cigarettes. Even one or two a day is just no good for you.

The raw veggies in your diet like cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes should not make you gassy. Raw veggies from the brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) do make some people feel gassy when eaten raw.

Good luck!

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