Tell me what normal eating looks like.
July 8, 2010 2:26 PM   Subscribe

I want to know what a "normal" person eats over the course of a day. What types of food, and how much.

I need to lose a fair amount of weight. I've been on and off diets my entire adult life. Sometimes I'm on a plan that restricts a whole category of food (fat or carbs, usually) but encourages you to eat the allowed foods "to satisfaction". Other times I'm on some sort of calorie or points-counting regimen.

It has gotten to the point where I no longer have any idea of what a normal portion of food looks like, or what a basically healthy but non-strict daily menu consists of. And I'm sick of "dieting" all the time.

The thing is, I know all about eating to satiety without stuffing myself. But it seems like even if I eat enough of a healthy meal to get full, I'm always starved by the time the next meal rolls around. On the other hand, if I eat a bacon, egg & cheese biscuit, hash browns and orange juice from McDonalds, it will hold me until lunch without needing a snack. But I don't want to eat junk every day!

I want to learn how to eat like a person who doesn't have a weight problem. I'm not looking for diet tips... I know weight can be lost and maintained by discipline and hard work. But surely if I ate like a normal person and exercised moderately, the weight ought to come off slowly but surely, right?

So if you're maintaining a reasonable weight without deliberately restricting your diet too much or exercising like a maniac, can you give me some idea of what you eat in a day?
posted by Serene Empress Dork to Health & Fitness (58 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
I eat primarily whole (unprocessed) foods.

Meaning, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, cheese, etc. It may help to consult with a nutritionist.
posted by dfriedman at 2:35 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just have coffee for breakfast. I usually have a pasta dish or a burger for lunch with fries, and a meat and potatoes dish for dinner. Lunch is ordered out, dinner is home made.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:36 PM on July 8, 2010

They say the best way to lose weight is by eating 6 small (healthy) meals a day - not just 3 big ones. For one thing dinner isn't my biggest meal of the day. What most people do is come home from work, eat a huge dinner and then sit around (watching TV, reading, etc) and then go to bed - you aren't really burning a whole lot of calories that way. I usually eat a big lunch and then throughout the day I snack on things like almonds and carrots. I usually have a smallish dinner like salad with grilled chicken and a teeny bit of dressing (not all the time though... sometimes a meal of beer and pizza is needed :P ).

Drink LOTS OF WATER throughout the day! No soda! You would be surprised how much weight you can gain from soda alone - even if it's "diet" soda.
posted by littlesq at 2:44 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

On the other hand, if I eat a bacon, egg & cheese biscuit, hash browns and orange juice from McDonalds, it will hold me until lunch without needing a snack. But I don't want to eat junk every day!

Eat something healthier and have a midmorning snack, such as cheese and cracker, an apple and cheese, a small sandwich, etc. Basically a small amount of protein and carbs to tide you ever between larger meals.
posted by new brand day at 2:45 PM on July 8, 2010

So there are a lot of diet/health/wellness blogs out there where the authors record everything they eat over long periods of time. While these blogs certainly have a slant towards healthy foods, I think the portions are not unreasonably small and the foods are not terribly unconventional. Two blogs I read fairly regularly are Kath Eats Real Foods and Healthy Tipping Point. What I like about these blogs (especially Kath Eats) is that they document EVERYTHING, including what they eat at parties, how they eat if they've had a particularly hard/strenuous day, eating during travel, etc. I think the hardest part to eating healthy is that it is much easier to get in a healthy eating routine when you're cooking for yourself, but it can be difficult to maintain this through a variety of social/life situations. They also focus WAY more on eating lots of fruit/veggies/lean protein/good carbs over how many calories you are eating.

There's also a lot of information about what constitutes a "portion size" or a "serving." An example.
posted by sararah at 2:50 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sure you know this, but I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer. For me personally, I'm a grazer. My body feels best when I eat about every 2 hours. If I try to hold myself to just 3 meals a day, I find myself stuffing myself at those meals and still being hungry in between. So for me, I eat smaller snackier things. For instance, my "meals" so far have been: 1) bowl of cottage cheese with a sliced peach, some sliced strawberries, and toasted pecans 2) 2 hard boiled eggs and veggies (carrots and cukes) 3) huge lunch salad topped with veggie burger, feta, hummus, and an orange, and 2 cookies. I'll probably have a piece of bread with PB&jam later in the afternoon, and then dinner will be spiralized zucchini with marinara and grilled chicken. I suspect another cookie or two will make its way in there somewhere. So yes, I'm pretty much constantly eating, but (aside from the huge salad) the portions are reasonable and most of it is raw produce.

On the other hand, my husband is the exact opposite. He'll forget to have breakfast, have a medium-sized lunch, and then have several helpings of dinner. We both maintain our weight at a totally healthy level. I think the key is finding what works for you to keep you from feeling starved, deprived, and food-obsessed.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 2:51 PM on July 8, 2010

You say you can eat to satisfaction in a healthy manner but are starving by the next meal. The easiest way to solve this is to eat 4 to 6 meals a day. In more of a caloric drip method.
There is so much more information...but if you're just looking to not feel like you're on a "diet" that's my best piece of advice for you.

The other thing you can do if you don't want to change your eating habits too much is to get a quality protein powder and drink a protein shake in between your normal 3 meals. (You are eating breakfast right? Always eat breakfast.)
The protein will satisfy your hunger levels. You could also do a few non-fat cheese sticks. Those are basically pure protein and very convenient.

I dunno if you should be looking at what other people are eating. It doesn't seem like the healthiest way for you to think of what you should consume. You are normal for someone else isn't normal for you. For instance, I'm a male 6ft 175 and eat 4 eggs, 1.5 cups of oats and 16oz of milk every single morning for breakfast. That most likely wouldn't apply to you.

If you'd like to go in depth on what your life diet would be like or what types of workouts you can do if you are thinking about exercising I can help you out and point you in the right direction for more information...just mefi-mail me and we'll go from there.
posted by zephyr_words at 2:53 PM on July 8, 2010

The thing is, I know all about eating to satiety without stuffing myself. But it seems like even if I eat enough of a healthy meal to get full, I'm always starved by the time the next meal rolls around. On the other hand, if I eat a bacon, egg & cheese biscuit, hash browns and orange juice from McDonalds, it will hold me until lunch without needing a snack.

But why can't you have a snack? I think part of eating to satiety is eating whenever you are hungry, not just at "mealtimes."

But surely if I ate like a normal person and exercised moderately, the weight ought to come off slowly but surely, right?

The thing is, the difference between the number of calories to maintain your weight at an "overweight" weight and a "normal" weight is, in my opinion, not that large. At my height and age, the difference in calories between maintaining my weight at 160 lbs and 125 lbs is only 200 calories per day. I think you really still will need to keep track of calories.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:57 PM on July 8, 2010

This answer will probably be justifiably be flagged as not answering your question - but you're asking the wrong question.

Thinking about only the diet is like focusing only on supply side economics: you're only accounting for half of the equation by focusing on your diet. You're leaving the entire other half of the universe of tools at your disposable on the table by not also folding in exercise.

I'll use myself as an anecdotal data point. I've just completed p90x. Kind of. Was in ok shape, rode my bike back and forth from work rain or shine about 5 miles a day, played tennis on the weekend, would do 30 minutes of cardio (stationary bike, elliptical, rowing machine) every other day - that's fairly characterized as more active than average. I never did any kind of weight training. I wasn't fat, but I was still 20 pounds heavier than I was in high school, but headed for the classic middle age spread pretty quick.

On a whim, I thought I'd change things up and try p90x, mainly because I have a toddler and working out at home with a DVD after he had gone to bed was less intrusive in terms of family time than going to the gym. When life would get in the way, as an experiment, if I had to skip a day, I'd skip cardio and only do the resistance days. I didn't diet in the least (although I did notice that I started eating better if only because I knew an hour of exercise was only good for about 600 extra calories - and when you're balancing that hour of hard work and sweat vs. a couple of donuts, it's kind of an obvious choice).

End result of maybe a 1/2 to 3/4 commitment to p90x + no diet = down 10 pounds. I haven't been this light since college, and I've never been in better shape. I heard it, but didn't really believe it until I lived it: it's all about muscle mass. You lose it as you get older, and as you build it back up, you not only feel better - you burn more calories at rest.

Most people think of an hour of hard work 4-6 times a week as "exercising like crazy," but the fact of the matter is the modern Western lifestyle is so sedentary that you've got to fold in something like that if you've got any hope of staying in shape.

I think of it this way: given a choice between depriving myself of what I want to eat vs. doing more exercise - I'd much rather exercise and eat what I want vs. not exercise and suffer a diet.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 2:58 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

if I ate like a normal person and exercised moderately, the weight ought to come off slowly but surely, right?

This assumption is a large one. By 'normal' I think you mean 'someone who doesn't diet' but people who don't have to diet to maintain their weight at a low point probably have some genetic advantages in their metabolism that you do not. Of course you should try to eat like a 'normal' person for your health and for pleasure, but your weight might not change that much. Then again, you don't know until you try, but biological set points are a bitch and the only way to overcome them for sure is counting calories to make sure calories in < calories out.
posted by slow graffiti at 3:02 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some quick thoughts:

The conventional wisdom is that a "portion" or "serving" is approximately the size of a deck of cards. Scale up for carrots, down for bacon, but that's the general idea.

I found that eating small meals constantly helps. If I eat three square meals a day, I eat huge portions. If I eat half a small sandwich at noon, then eat the second half at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, I can keep from overloading my plate when dinnertime comes 'round. My body seems to want 350 calories every few hours. If I wait, I end up giving it 1500 per meal, which is way more than I need.

Use smaller plates. At home we have these huge damed things. I find that if I use a smaller plate (bigger than a bread plate but smaller than a trough) I can go back for seconds and still end up eating less than I would were I eating off a single huge plate.

Also, water, and plenty of it. I find that I confuse hungry with thirsty quite a bit, so I drink more water than I think I need.

Caveat: I'm not "normal" or thin, but I've managed to shed some weight this way.
posted by lekvar at 3:05 PM on July 8, 2010

Also, previously.

I'm with the folks above who suggest eating more often. Eat when you're hungry. Eat foods that sound appealing to you at the time you're hungry. Give yourself access to a wide variety of delicious foods, especially vegetables and fruits, that are ready to eat any time you're hungry.

But surely if I ate like a normal person and exercised moderately, the weight ought to come off slowly but surely, right?

There's no such thing as a "normal person." I suspect you mean "a person whose body weight is lower than mine." If that's the case, many medical studies suggest that you may need to cut your calories substantially lower than a person who has never been fat in order to get and maintain a lower body weight. People have different metabolisms, and yours is different from other people's. What works to keep a person who has never been fat healthy might not work as well to keep you healthy, and that's okay. The goal is to find the way for you to be as healthy as you can be.

Regardless of whether or how quickly you lose weight, eating fewer Egg McMuffins and more fruit and oatmeal will be good for your body. But you need to figure out how your body wants to eat and work with that, or else you'll be miserable and end up reverting back to your old, less healthy habits.
posted by decathecting at 3:07 PM on July 8, 2010

Just so you know, I didn't know what a portion was until I started weighing my food.

You mention low carb; I know that when I started Atkins, the portions were all dictated by weight and I spent the first two weeks learning, more than anything, what X grams (one portion) of carrots look liked, or Y grams (one portion) of chicken looked like.

Today's food looks like:

2 eggs
2 slices bacon
2 cups of coffee with cream

3/4th cup diced chicken breast
1/2 cup full fat coleslaw
1/2 sliced tomato

1 salmon steak
100g of beans
125g mushrooms
cooked with 1 tsp butter

There should be a salad in there. What can I tell you; no day is perfect.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:10 PM on July 8, 2010

I think I can understand the desire to get some anecdotal gallery of what other people are eating, so I will provide my information, as well as some general advice below.

For reference, I'm a 5'4 woman, about 130 lb, and exercise vigorously 4-5x/week.

3 eggs
2 strips of bacon or 1 piece of sausage
About 1 cup of veggies (varies widely... spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, etc)
1 serving fruit (usually berries)

A large salad with a ton of veg, 4-6 oz of protein (usually chicken breast, sliced turkey, tuna fish, etc), and a moderate amount of fat (some combination of avocado, nuts, oil for dressing the salad, or crumbled bacon)

1 apple with a spoonful of almond butter

4-6 oz of protein
1-2 cups of veggies
Some kind of fat -- usually coconut oil for cooking the protein and veg

That's typical for me. As you might have noticed, I eat fairly low carb and do not eat any wheat or grains -- personally I've found that grains make me fucking ravenous (in addition to irritating my gut). I could probably eat an entire catering tray of pasta right now, but I'd be hard pressed to stuff myself with more than 10 oz of meat. Fat and protein fill me up until the next meal rolls around.

This site is what taught me how to eat real foods and cleaned up my diet tremendously, coming after a long period of obsessive, unsuccessful dieting. I can't recommend it enough.
posted by telegraph at 3:10 PM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

I do all the things mentioned so far -- almost no processed food, just coffee for breakfast and water throughout the day, eating a series of small meals whenever I'm hungry rather than eating a larger meal at a set time. I don't know if it matters or not that I do these things because they're what comes naturally to me, rather than that I'm actually trying to maintain a weight. Sometimes I get too thin, which isn't really good.

As for what I eat -- I like a lot of plain foods that haven't been, well, messed with or cooked. For lunch I pack a dish with things like black olives, cherry tomatoes, a boiled egg or two, vienna sausage -- little fun things with lots of tastes that are easy to eat.

I usually carry a bag of dried fruit in my purse for snacks. This week it was dried mango. I always carry water with me, and sometimes a thermos of coffee for throughout the day as well.

At home -- when I get in I get a glass of milk or orange juice or something similar. (Hot cocoa in cold weather.) Right now I've got a tomato plant, so if there's one ripe I'll pick it, cut it up and salt it, and eat that with maybe a few slices of lunchmeat (or not), and that will be a meal.

Later on, I might cook some frozen broccoli and eat that, maybe with cheese melted over the top.

Still later, I might fry a squash or eat a quesadilla or a scrambled egg.

Sometimes if I'm still munchy late at night I'll make shortbread cookies or some sort of fruit crisp with whatever fruit is hanging around.

As I'm writing this, a couple of thoughts have come to me:
1) I like the feeling of being hungry. Not the painful, gut-crunching, serious type of hungry, but that little gnawing hungry you get at 2 in the afternoon and realize that when you get home and eat, it's going to be extra-good because of the hunger.
2) Other than when I'm actually preparing or eating food (or answering questions like this) I don't really think about food. It's not on my mental radar that much.
3) I don't think it takes as much to fill me up as other people, which is why other people might end up weak or unhappy eating what I eat. I know that when I was in high school (and weighed 20 pounds more) it took a lot more to fill me up, although I don't know if that was psychological or physical.

Female, 5'7, 118 lbs. I walk quite a bit but that's it for exercising.
posted by frobozz at 3:13 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

An example:

Breakfast: A small glass of fruit juice before I exercise. A bowl of shredded wheat (maybe 1 1/2 cups?) with milk and a bit of honey after.

Early lunch: A sandwich on whole wheat - maybe hummus/avocado/tomato, or generous pb&h. If I'm being good, I'll try to add more fruit and veggie to the whole thing.

Afternoon snack: A cup or so of fruit with plain yogurt and granola.

Dinner: A fillet of fish cooked in a bit of butter and seasoned; a medium to large sweet potato with cinnamon and maybe a bit of cream; a bunch of asparagus stir-fried in a bit of canola oil and sprinkled with salt.

When I'm putting in heavier duty exercise, or if I eat a less substantial meal, I end up being hungrier, and I add another small snack or two to my day. I try to avoid feeling starved at any point, as it really messes with my moods and energy. I believe proteins and fiber help to hold you over longer.

Not a perfect diet, but pretty good. I don't calorie-count, but I do try to go with whole grains and fresh produce over more refined foods (though I do loves me some pasta). I don't avoid fats, but eating meals too heavy in them (In N' Out burger with fries, for example) makes me feel a little physically ill.

These are "normal" proportions for me and my metabolism. I don't struggle with weight, so I don't know how it would translate for you.
posted by moira at 3:17 PM on July 8, 2010

Oh, aside from my pre-exercise juice, I only drink water.
posted by moira at 3:18 PM on July 8, 2010

I have pretty terrible eating habits, but since you asked:
Today I had a bowl of cereal, a yam, a bowl of leftover stir fry (with chicken and rice), a large can of soup, an apple and a pear, and will likely have some nachos and a beer or two with friends for dinner.

Yesterday I had a bowl of cereal, a small bag of peanuts from the vending machine at work, a big bowl of the same stir fry, 2 apples, and a popsicle.

Day before, ate a big lunch out with friends, and had a bowl of pasta with sauce for dinner.

So lots of small meals, fruit as a first choice of snack, homemade dinner when I can do it, lots of restaurant meals with friends. Usual portion size is about 2 cups for lunch and dinner.

I'm a 5'11" guy, and am about normal weight. I get about an hour of real exercise a week.

I estimate calories like this:
1000 calories per lb of dry rice, pasta, beans, nuts, snacks like chips, popcorn, and pretzels, bread
150 calories per smallish piece of meat (like a chicken breast)
100 calories per piece of fruit
500 calories per lb of potatoes, yams, etc.
250 calories per alcoholic drink
1000 calories per restaurant meal (at least, doesn't even really matter what it is)
Negligible calories in veggies
posted by miyabo at 3:32 PM on July 8, 2010

I've been mostly vegetarian or vegan for the past 15 years (I eat a little meat now, maybe a small portion once or twice a week). After researching the evidence over the years and being open to new ideas (e.g. I tried Paleo for a few months), I'm convinced that a mostly vegan diet is the best. I have been a stable 155-160 lbs at 5'10" tall for at least 10 years now (I'm 32). The only time I went above this was when I was on Paleo and eating lots of meat, I got up to 165 (and I was exercising a LOT at the time, doing crossfit for 1 hr 8x per week).

I also never get sick. I don't have any allergies, nor any health conditions (asthma, diabetes, thyroid issues, etc). My cholesterol has always been below 140, except perhaps when I did the Paleo thing. I also still look really young (people often think I'm 24!). I know, without a doubt, that this is because I don't eat the typical disease-causing American diet.

A good book that lays this out is "Eat To Live" by Dr. Joel Furhman. There are lots of books that purport to be "the" way to eat, such as The Zone, and books on Paleo, and the Atkins stuff but based on the actual scientific evidence all this stuff is bunk based on anecdotal evidence and/or actually harming your health to make your body shed weight.

Population studies have shown over the last 50 years that when cultures change their diet to incorporate lots of meat and dairy, health plummets and the rates of heart attacks and cancer rise. This is not in dispute, it is a fact. I myself know it's true, because I've been doing this type of eating regimen for more than a decade (before I even read the book) and my experience parallels what Dr. Furhman says to expect when eating the types of foods that he recommends. He has also treated thousands of patients over the years and seen all kinds of medical conditions vanish when people change their eating habits to a diet based on high-fiber, natural foods.

The key to being healthy is eating LOTS of vegetables, fruits, legumes, plus some nuts and seeds, and a little whole grains. Also stay away from anything processed, even things like "whole grain" or "whole wheat" cereals. No sugar, no (or very very low) salt, or dairy. A little meat (maybe 4 oz once a week) can be OK if you exercise a lot.

For example, today for breakfast I had a homemade smoothie made of 2 c filtered water, 1 banana, 1 frozen mango, and 2 Tbsp flax seeds. I had an organic peach about an hour later, and an organic apple about an hour after that. I made a burrito for lunch ("whole wheat" wrap, probably not good for me but eh) that had unsalted navy beans; romaine lettuce; steamed broccoli, carrots, and spinach; organic refried beans; organic salsa; and hot sauce inside. I also had a big bowl full of romaine lettuce and spinach with 1 T organic flax oil vinaigrette mixed in. I will be having another bowl of this when I finish this post, to tide me over until dinner (it's impossible for me to not eat between 1pm and 7pm). I'm not sure what I will have for dinner yet. Probably gonna make some steamed veggies over a bit of brown rice with some thinned out soy sauce. I will likely have some meat this weekend while I'm out with friends.

I know a lot of people will think this is a horrible diet, but once you stop eating crap that is designed to overload your taste buds they really do adjust and things like steamed kale, or brown rice, or romaine lettuce or whatever other natural food you eat really do start to taste quite amazing. It's tempting to eat bad food (hell, I could eat a blue cheese bacon burger every day if it wasn't bad for me! yum.) but remember this is your health and your life. For me, personally, I like to know that when I die, there's a good chance that it will NOT be from heart problems or cancer (the opposite is true if you eat a typical American diet).
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 3:35 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Forgot to mention a few other points: If you want to make smoothies, use the whole fruit/veg. Juicing it first is pointless. The fiber is the good stuff. Also, oils are not good for you (yes, even olive oil) because they are processed to remove the nutrients and (duh) high in fat. Also a lot of people will look at what I eat and say "But you need more protein than that! Especially if you exercise!" Did you know that romain lettuce is half protein (dry weight)? There is protein in everything. The key to eating well is to just eat as much as you want of healthy stuff like in my example of what I ate today. If it's healthy, you can't eat too much of it. Many of the guidelines from the government etc for Recommended Daily Allowances are based on the assumption that you eat crap food like everyone else and the food pyramid is not based on science but on industry lobbying. The truth is, if you eat lots of good, wholesome veggies etc you get everything your body needs (and a little meat every so often gives you vitamin B12, or you can get it as a supplement).
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 3:48 PM on July 8, 2010

Crap, one more thing. My mid-afternoon salad is not just romaine like my lunch salad. It also has dandelion greens, cilantro, dinosaur kale, spinach, red pepper, grapes, currants, almonds, and carrots. FYI, I use a 1.5 qt glass mixing bowl as my salad bowl and fill it up every time I have a salad (2-3x per day). Yes, you can eat LOTS when you're eating only good stuff. And, salads for breakfast RULE. Such an energy boost early in the morning -- better than coffee!
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 3:58 PM on July 8, 2010

Just as a data point -I'm in my late 40s, 5'10" 170 lbs and lost 40 pounds of middle age spread over the last few years by running a couple of miles, a few times a week and cutting back on portions. I also quit drinking. My eating habits aren't fantastic but here it goes:

Breakfast -usually 1/4 cup (dry) oatmeal with raisins, 3 prunes and a banana/ or a 2 egg omelette with toast.

Lunch -some kind of bean salad (about as much as I could hold in my 2 cupped hands?) /or 2 eggs and toast with a tomato and sliced cucumber/ or a burger (minus fries) once a week.

Supper -often pasta with a mixture of sauteed and boiled vegetables (same size serving as the bean salad at lunch) but I eat as many boiled vegetables as I want/ or if I eat meat, I eat as much as I like to be sure the leftovers don't go bad (a duty I feel I owe the animal)

Snacks -any fruits or vegetables, as often as I like. A couple of chocolate bars a week (so buy the good stuff instead of the variety store crap)

I make up excuses to cheat all the time and will gain 5 pounds but whenever I get back on my diet I always remind myself that I'm still 35 pounds lighter than when I started. Yay!
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:11 PM on July 8, 2010

Today I ate:

8:00 - two cups of coffee (I wasn't hungry)
12:00 - 1/2 a cup of dry oatmeal, 3/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of dried, sweetened cranberries
3:30 - 6 ounces of greek yogurt with strawberries (my lack of breakfast caught up with me, and I knew if I didn't have something then, I'd be starving when I got home.)
6:45 - about 2/3 of a cucumber made into cucumber salad with 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Then, a homemade pita with 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese and dried mint.

I was overweight for a while, and had the same problem as you. Part of what helped me was reading labels; I've memorized the foods I eat on a daily basis. And I don't count the calories from non-starchy veggies. What else? Oh, I'm infamous at work for snacking. I have a drawer in my office with prunes, almond, hardboiled eggs, usually some fruit. They're all about a hundred calories.

I said something similar in another thread about lunch, but either I can restrict myself to Healthy Food, and then go crazy and order takeout or raid the candy drawer at work or eat an entire pizza, or I can plan on some delicious, slightly more indulgent food. I'd rather eat the pita with ricotta for dinner, or I can end up making a batch of butter pasta (exactly what it sounds like!) at 11.

I don't eat reduced fat or sugar foods; I find them...unsatisfying. I cook a lot of my own food.
posted by punchtothehead at 4:14 PM on July 8, 2010

if I'm really honest: my average day looks like this
breakfast: 2 espressos, 2 gauloises, half a bitter chocolate bar, glass of water
(I really promote smoking for breakfast)
lunch: next to nothing and a drink
around four: hongerklop (knocked out by hunger) anything
(ramen, herring, a sandwich the kids brought back from school yesterday, that we put back in the fridge as punishment, but they forgot to take it anyway so I am eating it without thinking because I have to stuff my face NOW)
while cooking around 7: yesterdays leftovers straight from the fridge and a beer
diner: one plate of whatever we're having for dinner, some beer might be involved
posted by ouke at 4:20 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

prepare all your own food (a lot of the calories you get with prepared food comes from stuff you would never put in food you prepare yourself), and don't drink beverages with calories in them (I allow an exception for alcohol).

This is what today's food intake looks like:

Breakfast: 1 cup of frozen berries, 1 banana, 1/2 cup of fat-free yogurt. Black coffee.

Lunch: Sandwich with mustard thinly sliced cheddar cheese, tomatoes, pickles and lettuce, all on whole wheat bread I make myself. Seltzer water.

Midafternoon Snack: 1 cup of frozen berries, 1/2 cup of fat-free yogurt. Black coffee.

Dinner: 3 slices of homemade vegetarian pizza (broccoli, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic with cheddar cheese on whole wheat dough I made myself). 1 can of Beer.

Evening Snack: Apple. Tea. Probably another can of beer.


This is pretty much a normal day of eating for me. I also have a tendency to be overweight, but now am maintaining a weight in the BMI normal range. As much as there has been a "trick" it is simply only to allow myself to eat fresh fruit and yogurt as snack foods. If I want something unhealthy, I have to incorporate it into a meal (which I make myself). That and exercise.
posted by 256 at 4:28 PM on July 8, 2010

Response by poster: zephyr_words I dunno if you should be looking at what other people are eating... For instance, I'm a male 6ft 175 and eat 4 eggs, 1.5 cups of oats and 16oz of milk every single morning for breakfast. That most likely wouldn't apply to you.

I’m not looking to copy anybody’s eating habits arbitrarily, I just want to get a general idea of how people eat who aren’t dieting but are generally healthy. I totally could see myself eating close to what you eat for breakfast, and thinking I was eating a reasonably healthy breakfast. (Maybe if I didn’t eat another thing all day…!) But now I know that that is a breakfast for a 6 ft. 175 lb. guy, way too much for a 5’4” woman who wants to weigh 160.

NoRelationToLea you're only accounting for half of the equation by focusing on your diet. You're leaving the entire other half of the universe of tools at your disposable on the table by not also folding in exercise.

I did mention moderate exercise in my post. I don’t want to do p90x, having to do that every day (or ever, really) sounds like absolute misery to me. I used to swim daily, got out of it for awhile and now I’m working my way up to an hour a day. I hate weight training, but I’ll probably add a few compound strength exercises a couple of times a week, grudgingly.

decathecting There's no such thing as a "normal person." I suspect you mean "a person whose body weight is lower than mine."

What I mean by a “normal person” is someone who is not obese and doesn’t do anything strenuous to maintain their weight other than making a reasonable effort to eat healthy and a modest amount of exercise.

As opposed to: people whose metabolisms are so fast they can eat tons of junk and not gain an ounce; bodybuilders, marathoners and others for whom fitness and nutrition is a time-consuming hobby/lifestyle; formerly obese people who keep their weight in check by strictly dieting and diligently working out; and of course other obese people who are struggling. I’m not interested in learning what these folks eat… I’m just hoping there’s a way to relax a little about this stuff and not always be careening between lengthy periods of deprivation followed by equally lengthy periods of bingeing. And I’d like to know how the more relaxed folks do it.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:30 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Eating habits are a very individual thing and everyone varies.

A bit about me: I ate abnormally for years, alternating between bingeing and severely restricting. My attempts at dieting eventually veered off in one (or both) of those directions. My weight fluctuated by dozens of pounds over the last ten years; most of the time I was overweight or obese.

Many people swear by counting calories or writing down what they eat, because it works for them. It doesn't work for me; I will start obsessing or rebelling. Instead, I do best when I don't have to think about eating very much at all. The things that helped me get to that point: eating enough to be full, having numerous healthy options available, learning some easy recipes I like, breaking my eat-when-bored habit, and learning not to feel ashamed or evil for eating (or just craving) junk food.

Currently I am eating as normally, and as healthily, as I've ever eaten. I am just barely officially-not-overweight (24.5-9 BMI) and seem to be slowly losing. I'm not obsessed with food and it feels awesome.

Enough about that. Here's what I eat in a typical day:

Breakfast: either 6 oz. Greek yogurt with granola sprinkled on top, or Clif Bar, or whole wheat pita/toast with peanut butter (I used to skip breakfast, but I take medication that makes me urpy on an empty stomach, so I eat things that take almost no time to make)

Lunch: a sandwich-sized container with chicken salad, tuna salad, bean salad, or leftovers. If I buy my lunch in the work cafeteria, it's almost always salad bar. (Often I get the smaller salad bar container and fill it with mostly beans and carrots, sometimes grilled chicken, a few cubes of cheese, and a not-insane amount of ranch dressing.) Sometimes I eat lunch in one sitting, sometimes I split it up into two smaller meals; depends on how hungry I am.

Snacks, if applicable: usually a handful of almonds or trail mix, or an apple with peanut butter, or an orange. If someone brings cookies or brownies to work I will help myself.

Dinner: usually some sort of stir-fried chicken or beef, or sometimes pan-fried fish or shrimp, some sort of vegetable like stir-fried broccoli or sauteed spinach, and brown rice. Usually on a salad-sized plate rather than a big dinner plate. The proportions by volume are usually 1/3 each of meat, vegetable, and starch, or sometimes 1/4-1/2-1/4 respectively.

Generally, I aim for high-quality, deliciously-prepared protein and vegetables. I don't avoid carbs, but I try to make them the smallest part of my meals, and eat whole-grain whenever possible. (Sometimes, though, you just have to have a Big Mac or a piece of cake.)

I drink water constantly. I drink diet soda and coffee with skim or 2% milk and Splenda regularly. I do work out six days a week, but that's more for my overall physical and mental health than for any weight loss purposes. I generally eat regular meals around the same time, but aside from my autopilot breakfast, I shift mealtimes and portions around a bit based on how hungry I am.

If you're used to, say, pasta, and suddenly switch to chicken and veggies, it can feel a little odd at first, but the more you stick with it the easier it feels. Eventually you reach the point where healthy feels "normal" and meals aren't about depriving or indulging or cheating.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:30 PM on July 8, 2010

Response by poster: ouke breakfast: 2 espressos, 2 gauloises, half a bitter chocolate bar, glass of water

Sounds fantastic! (I miss smoking sometimes.)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2010

To give you some data points -- 135lb 35yo female here. This is today's intake:

black coffee
approx 2/3c. lowfat yogurt
approx 1/2c. cereal (Kashi)

sandwich made from 1 croissant, a boiled egg, baby spinach and a couple of tomato slices and mayo
multigrain corn chips

a few more multigrain chips
a handful of sungold cherry tomatoes

Veggie burger w/ tomato, cheese on a slim bun
diced potatoes and yellow beans stir-fried with garlic in a small amt of butter

a handful of chocolate chips
posted by statolith at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2010

It sounds like you are also asking a more literal question as to what your meal should look like. It sounds like part of your question is about portion control. I remember hearing/seeing recommendations that base portions on commonly known objects to help people gauge proper portion size, such as a serving of meat should be no larger than a deck of cards or a serving of pasta or rice should be about the size of a tennis ball. I found a link to a blog entry that reproduced what I was thinking of here. Maybe that will help. Although I don't think it's the healthiest way to go, some people find that briefly going on a program that includes prepackaged meals (such as Jenny Craig) helps, because it is all about portion control. Most gain weight after they go off, but the few who used it as a gauge for what portion sizes they should be aiming for looked like on a plate and then applied it to healthy, home prepared foods, were successful.

I also find that protein, whether or not it is from animal sources, satisfies me longer than a meal without protein. Hence you being sated hours after your McDonald's breakfast that includes a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit makes total sense to me. I can eat a mound of pancakes or a large bowl of cereal and be starving 2 hours later, but a simple protein shake (soy milk, protein powder, and fruit) will easily keep me until lunch. Buckaroo_benzai's shake would not keep me sated for very long, but a simple addition of protein powder (and it can be from soy) or yogurt if you keep dairy in your diet, and I'd be good to go until lunch. Good snacks to keep you satisfied between meals include celery or apple slices with peanut butter (and we're talking just a small serving (one or two teaspoons), a slice of turkey wrapped around a piece of string cheese, a single handful of almonds, etc. Of course it will depend upon whether or not you want to follow recommendations that are vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. I'm not suggesting that every meal and snack needs to include a portion of protein. But I do find that if my breakfast includes a healthy dose of protein, whether in a shake or a full on eggs and bacon breakfast, then I can easily go the rest of the day, eating normal sized portions, without feeling hungry. YMMV.
posted by kaybdc at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2010

Response by poster: kaybdc I remember hearing/seeing recommendations that base portions on commonly known objects to help people gauge proper portion size, such as a serving of meat should be no larger than a deck of cards or a serving of pasta or rice should be about the size of a tennis ball.

Aren't those diet portion sizes, though? Do non-dieting people generally stick to those portions too?

For the record, I'm an omnivore but I like to eat vegetarian meals fairly frequently.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:47 PM on July 8, 2010

Tonight's dinner: brown rice and a korma sauce with paneer and peas. I overeat on these nights (mmm, paneer!), but I think my non-overeating portion would be maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cups rice and 1 - 1 1/2 cups curry?

One other thing that might (or might not) help - I eat very slowly, and it may give me more time to register that I have had enough to eat.
posted by moira at 4:52 PM on July 8, 2010

My eating habits are terrible, I'm the first to admit it. I eat on the go and I eat what I want. I don't lose or gain weight anymore, I just eat what I want. ^_^

Breakfast: Pudding cup (to hide my meds in), fruit cup & coffee.

Snack after walking a mile: Chic- fil- a chicken biscuit & water

Snack after walking 1/2 mile: Coffee & Diet Coke

Lunch after walking a mile: couple handfuls of trail mix, a swiss roll & a fig snack bar

Snack: Coffee

Dinner (too much, I admit): 6' sub (corned beef) and waffle fries from local deli & 1/2 32oz pink lemonade. Normally I don't eat that much for dinner, but I just did tonight.

Dessert will be: diet coke (to take my meds)

PS: all that walking is 'cause I have no car for running errands with - not for exercise purposes.
posted by patheral at 5:04 PM on July 8, 2010

My understanding is that the recommended portion sizes are what everyone should be aiming for if they want to maintain a healthy life. It's far more critical for things like meat, dairy, and carbs for which (at least in the US) portion sizes are way off the mark. I mean when is the last time that you ate out and actually had a meat portion that was no bigger than a deck of cards? It's not impossible, but it's rare. Pasta is the one that is hard for me to control. I think of a large bowl of pasta, not a tennis ball size servings.

I have been fortunate in not having to struggle with my weight (although now that I'm solidly "middle-aged" it could become more of an issue), but I try to keep these portion sizes in mind whether I'm eating out or preparing a meal for myself. For the record I'm in my 40s, 5'-8" and weigh between 130-140 right now because I've had a stressful time with work for the last few months, and unlike a lot of people who stress eat, I don't eat when I'm stressed. However I can usually maintain my weight between 140-150 by being mindful of what I eat (if I've had a few meals that include meat, I try to make sure that I eat mainly vegetarian for a few days, try to get in enough fruits and veggies). I wouldn't call that dieting. I don't even think about portion control with regard to fruits and vegetables and I've had my share of times when I've considered a pint of gelato as a single serving. I don't exercise as regularly as I should but I don't drive so I probably walk a lot more than most people in the course of an average week. I go through phases where I'm better about getting to the gym or yoga class, but again with the work stuff, that hasn't happened in awhile. I only drink water and coffee (coffee about 2-3 cups a day, water varies, but I try to drink a liter and usually drink more because my office was really dry).
posted by kaybdc at 5:14 PM on July 8, 2010

To add to the datapoints?

I just don't get hungry in the mornings, so I rarely eat before noon. Another piece of individual variation.

Todays food intake looked like this:

AM: coffee

Lunch: Salad that was about 2/3 one of those pre-packaged baby lettuce thingies, half an avocado, half a tomato, about an oz of goat cheese. 1 tbsp olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar, diet coke

Snack: string cheese

Dinner: 1 small chicken breast, grilled, with a pinot noir/berry reduction, grilled zucchini, about 2 tbsp yogurt over the zuke, and 4 teeny potatoes, boiled, with a little butter.

Dessert: mini cupcake from a cupcake truck.

I make no comments about the healthiness or lack thereof, but I don't put on any weight eating like this.
posted by gaspode at 5:23 PM on July 8, 2010

I used to buy sandwiches or salads but it's incredibly hard to regulate what goes into your body or portion control unless you make your own food. This is a little ridiculous, but I invested in a Ms. Bento lunch jar which I heart very much. It's great for portion control and just kind of a neat little thing.

Anyway, here are some examples of what I eat at each meal (measurements approximate, I'm not good about measuring food or watching what I eat):

Breakfast is the same every day: ~1/4 - 1/3 cup almond-coconut granola, kefir milk, sliced bananas, and sometimes 1/4 cup of sliced strawberries or blueberries depending on whether they're on sale, and a travel mug of black tea with whole milk.

Lunch: a generous wedge of home-made bacon, leek and gruyere quiche with raw spinach; 1.5 cups of mushroom risotto; 1 cup brown rice with 1/3 cup black beans; a small grilled chicken breast and a cup of pasta salad; 1 cup stir-fried udon with chicken and vegetables; or 1 cup lamb tagine with 1/4 cup couscous.

Dessert or snack: an apple, a peach, or 1/4 cup of greek yoghurt with honey, sometimes pomegranates. Occasionally, if I can be bothered to go get it or if someone in the office volunteers to fetch it, I will have a cookie or one of those Starbucks/Peet's frappucino milkshake things.

Dinner: Salad or a bunch of sauteed greens (usually kale or chard) or maybe 1 or 2 cups of braised legumes (fava or lima beans or peas) with bread and cheese; plate of pasta with sauteed greens or a ragu and salad; cup of miso soup and 3/4 cup of brown rice with cold tofu and some sort of blanched Chinese vegetable with oyster sauce and sesame oil; I went through a phase of eating broiled miso black cod with brown rice and a vegetable a couple of times a week.

Dessert is usually 1/3 cup of yoghurt with honey or some sort of fruit. Sometimes I stick a tablespoon into a jar of Nutella and eat it like a lollipop.

Don't drink soda or very much coffee. No snacks in the house. Like a good yuppie, I eat mostly organic and local foods (not because of any particular attitude toward pesticides or health, just because I find them more satisfying as they just taste better). I don't eat convenience or frozen foods and tend to cook or (less often) bake from scratch, but that's because I don't have a family or much of a life and have the time to do so. I don't drink alcohol during the week but will occasionally drink heavily on the weekends.

Also, the low-carb thing is totally inconvenient for me. I try to have vegetables at every meal, and at least some protein at least once a day.

I'm not particularly thin--never have been, never will be, at a shade under 5'6" and 145lbs, and I'm a size four, occasionally a six, rarely a two, at US chain stores. My diet changes according to the season and I eat much more meat and fat during winter.
posted by superquail at 5:26 PM on July 8, 2010

BMI:19, Male

I may not be normal but I believe I am rational!

I analyze foods for the optimal calories per dollar per minute and buy them because it's efficient. McDonalds is an overachiever at this: a small Big Mac meal can be obtained and gulped down in a few minutes and will keep me going for many many hours. Don't eat the same food twice in the same week - varied diet is important. If I don't anticipate physical activity (it's a weekend, I'm not walking out / going out) I'll just skip a meal entirely: I don't need the energy that I'm not going to use. High sugar and carb stuff, while having good caloric density, is pretty awful: the blood sugar spike and crash afterwards is incapacitating. I'm a firm believer that hunger is just your brain's learned response that it should expect a certain amount of food at a certain time of day. This has nothing to do with energy or caloric needs. Do you run slower when you've skipped lunch?

My eating habits look like that. Small, quick, energy dense meals (proteins, fats). Not much sugar at all.

The times I eat for pleasure are at fancy restaurants which provide stupidly tiny portions on gigantic plates anyway. But oh so good.
posted by xdvesper at 6:27 PM on July 8, 2010

Serene Empress Dork Aren't those diet portion sizes, though? Do non-dieting people generally stick to those portions too?

The deck of cards for meat, the tennis ball for pasta and ice cream, and the pair of dice for full-fat cheese were picked by dietitians to be visual cues for non-diet portion sizes. The old NHLBI Portion Distortion quiz site is worth a look, and they also have a What Are Portions and Servings? page with a print-out serving size card.

I have a set of older 10-inch dinner plates in the house. Excluding the rims, the usable area of the plate has a diameter of 9 inches and a depth of about half an inch in the center. That means the volume of the plate is about 2 cups. Two cups is a decent ballpark estimate of how much dinner the average American ate 30 years ago. Based on this idea, a couple guys wrote a diet book a few years ago called The 9-Inch "Diet", a decent summary of which is here.

Obviously, a lot of people don't agree on how that plate should be divided up, but frequently it's about half vegetables/fruit, a quarter starchy foods, and a quarter protein, which aligns fairly well with the standard deck of cards and tennis ball school of portion size. Adjust as needed based on your personal predilections and level of hunger.
posted by hat at 6:32 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Aren't those diet portion sizes, though? Do non-dieting people generally stick to those portions too?

They're not too bad, actually. If you've got a piece of meat the size of the palm of your hand, another palm of rice, and two palms of vegetables, all on the same plate, that's a reasonably big meal. If you cut up that meat, like in a stir-fry or a salad, it'll look like a lot more. If your meals are still looking small and you don't know what to add, add veggies!

I was incredulous about the deck-of-cards thing too, but after getting adjusted to eating this way, a restaurant-sized plate of pasta looks like a ridiculous doughy challenge that can only end in bloating and naptime.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:36 PM on July 8, 2010

Male, 45 years old, 6'3", 230 lbs and trying to get down to 215 or so. Today was pretty normal: coffee for breakfast, linguica on a hot-dog roll with mustard for lunch, an avocado with 1 Tbsp A1 Sauce for a mid-afternoon snack, and I'm just now sautéing 4 little lamb chops which I'll eat with some savory rice (about ½ cup white rice, cooked in chicken stock in a pan with sautéed garlic and onion). A Coke Zero with each meal. Somewhere in there after lunch I skipped rope 500 times and curled some 20lb dumbbells.
posted by nicwolff at 6:42 PM on July 8, 2010

I tend to eat the same thing over and over again on weekdays, so this is roughly what I eat when I'm not exercising more than a couple of hours a week. I stay around the same weight (I'm 5'3'', for reference). I could and probably should replace the candy bar with something healthier, though. Maybe a boiled egg?

What I drink
Regular hydration - water, plain soymilk, black coffee if I can get the good stuff
Occasional treats - tea with lots of cream and sugar, juice, soda

What I eat
Breakfast - 1/2 cup plain yogurt + whole banana + 1/8C granola OR 1/2C oats cooked (forms about 1 cup cooked) + walnuts + whole banana
Lunch - Salad from salad bar at work (two cups spinach, 1/4C bell peppers, sprinkling dried cranberries, 1.5 Tbsp sunflower seeds, 1/2 C shredded carrots, sprinkling shredded red cabbage), 12 oz hearty soup or chili
Snack - A candy bar or whatever looks interesting in the vending machine if I'm really hungry, or nothing.
Dinner - About a cup of steamed rice, as many steamed vegetables as I want (usually zucchini+broccoli+carrots), and baked or pan fried chicken. Or, spaghetti with meat sauce.

Weekends are a lot more free form. Generally I eat brunch (leftovers) and dinner (out) and snack in between on whatever's around.

Oh, and when I eat out at chain sit down restaurants that give huge portions, I eat half of whatever portion is given to me and then nibble and drink water until I feel sated. I take the rest home to eat for lunch the next day, or to snack on later if I'm still hungry. I also do this with burritos from places like Chipotle. I don't do this with hamburger meals (too difficult and unsatisfying), so I try to avoid eating them too often.
posted by millions of peaches at 6:43 PM on July 8, 2010

Oh, and when I eat out at chain sit down restaurants that give huge portions, I eat half of whatever portion is given to me and then nibble and drink water until I feel sated. I take the rest home to eat for lunch the next day, or to snack on later if I'm still hungry.

I do that too (usually). The portions they serve at restaurants are HUGE! First thing i do is get a to go box and dump half of whatever I'm having inside. Saves me a belly ache and I have lunch for the morrow.
posted by patheral at 6:59 PM on July 8, 2010

I’m just hoping there’s a way to relax a little about this stuff and not always be careening between lengthy periods of deprivation followed by equally lengthy periods of bingeing.

I really hate to be the bearer of bad news here, because it's clear that you're having a hard time and looking for some answers and hope in a tough situation. But if that were true, if there were a way to eat sensibly without deprivation or hard work, and still lose a lot of weight and no longer be fat, don't you think everyone would do it? The reason that people spend literally billions of dollars a year on weight loss products and diet books and supplements and tapeworms and magic water is because there is no method currently known to be safe and effective at turning overweight or obese people into thin people permanently. (Weight loss surgery is the only method currently known to be effective, but I don't consider it safe. Others may disagree. It's also not always effective.)

The National Weight Control Registry, a medical study of people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year (which is a pretty low bar for significant, long-term results) indicates that most people who succeed at long-term weight loss do so by counting calories and exercising (90% report that they exercise, on average, about an hour a day). They weigh themselves regularly, they eschew television, and they follow calorie restricted diets. They do this every day, forever, or else they gain weight.

It would be wonderful if there were an easy, low-stress way for everyone to attain and maintain the body they wish to have. But there isn't. Most people (according to many studies, 90% or more of people) who diet end up in a cycle of restricting to lose weight, then gaining it back, then restricting again. For some people, that cycle lasts their entire lives. That cycle is believed by experts to be less healthy than maintaining a stable body weight, even if that weight is higher than is considered ideal.

Again, I commend your efforts to improve your eating habits and figure out what works for you. But if you're embarking on this course in the hopes that it will provide a relaxed, low-stress method of maintaining a particular body weight, I'm afraid that you're going to be disappointed.
posted by decathecting at 7:17 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

More data

31 year old female, 5'6", 135 pounds

8am - 1 cup of steamed swiss chard with squeeze of lemon, small soy latte
10am - 2 boiled eggs
1pm - 1/2 cup mixed bean salad, 1 cup spinach and carrot salad with sesame oil, bag of mixed nuts with chocolate, dried cranberries..
4pm - small bag of rice chips
6pm- 2 sticks of celery w/ 1 tbsp almond butter
8pm - mexican food in a restaurant (guac, corn chips, beef tacos)
10pm - popsicle

3L of water throughout the day
posted by gillianr at 7:22 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, what I personally see as normal eating is having about 2 ± 1 meals per day, usually one large one (1 to 3 dinner plates) and one small one (0.5 to 1 dinner plate or less). Less often is okay to me if you prefer it. Eating 6 small meals a day seems historically abnormal to me and not healthful. I've done the grazing-through-the-day thing because it's an easy habit to slip into when food is ubiquitous, but it's not how my parents or any of my recent ancestors ate and I don't think it's how people 40,000 years ago would have eaten either. I also don't like how it tends to reinforce a physical dependence on frequent eating by elevating blood sugar levels multiple times a day. CRON, paleo/low-carb eating, and intermittent fasting align with my prejudices.
posted by hat at 8:51 PM on July 8, 2010

Serene Empress Dork Aren't those diet portion sizes, though? Do non-dieting people generally stick to those portions too?

This is how I think of it: when you're overweight, you need more calories per day to maintain this weight than a person who is not overweight (if we're not considering exercise levels, medical conditions, etc). So for an overweight person, those portion sizes would be considered "diet" portions, because eating less calories means you're running a calorie deficit, and therefore you will start losing weight.

When you've lost enough weight to become a "healthy" weight (whatever that means), you won't need as many calories to maintain this weight, and therefore those portion sizes are still enough to live on. We do tend to lose muscle mass as we age, though, therefore if you just keep the same diet without strength training you will gain excess weight.
posted by minus zero at 8:51 PM on July 8, 2010

Australian nutritionist Kathryn Elliot ran a series on her blog Limes and Licopene a few years ago called What I Eat where she posted photos of everything she ate, every day for two weeks. It was great to see visual examples of portion sizes and snacks. Some examples: 1, 2, 3.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:53 PM on July 8, 2010


I know what you mean about the breakfast thing. I found in winter, having a high-protein fatty breakfast made a measurable difference to my body temperature as well as hunger levels.
That was the: two pieces of Vogels bread (really thick solid, wholegrainy, perfect toast bread), with hummus and 5 fishfingers between it, as my brekkie on the run.

My other standard breakfast is: Bowl of whiterice/brown rice/rice noodles, with tofu/1-2eggs/halfcan of tuna, and a couple out of tomatoes/canned tomatoes/broccoli/avocado/carrot/asparagus/cabbage/frozen veges etc, with soyasauce/garlic&lemon/thaichillisauce/miso/tinybitofcheese etc as flavour.
(one of each option, I'd just put ricenoodles in a bowl with water on them the night before, sometimes with veges already chopped, put it in the microwave first thing in the morning for a few minutes, then another two minutes with the protein option added, and eat it while walking).

Bowl of Porridge - oats, raisins, chopped apple etc in the ricecooker the night before, sometimes plugged into a power/mains timer so that it automatically starts right before breakfast.

Weetbix - 4 weetbix, milk, a little sugar, banana.
Muesli - bowl of muesli.

I often find myself having a yogurt as well with the last two. Not enough protein probably? Or recently, I bought a container of protein powder, and I throw a scoop or two of that into the last few options, or drink it separately.
Cornflakes just make me hungry 5 minutes later. And all low-blood sugary. :P

Snacks - If I'm actually *hungry* through trial and error I've figured out I need something with protein in it. A muesli bar (check the side, one with food, not crispy sugar), yogurt, peanut butter on a piece of toast etc.
When I'm working I also have two pieces of fruit on my desk that I can absent-mindedly munch on, but thats for vitamins and tasty fruitness, not because it'll tide me over for more than 20 minutes.

Can of tuna on rice/ricenoodles/etc & the additionals - usually the flavoured tuna, like, thai greencurry. A full 185 grams, not the little ones. Pretty similar to breakfast actually.

Can of soup, made with milk, with a piece of toast? Usually prefer the soups that... turn out to have more protein on them! Love the taste regardless, but don't feel 'full' enough.
On the toast I'll often have hummus, avocado or cheese with chopped tomatoes on it.

Or I'll have at least 4 pieces of toast, with peanut butter, avocado, hummus or cheese on three of them, and jam on the last. Less common though.

Or, a container of whatever I had for dinner and packed.


Dhal vege soup - Lentils cooked til it's a stew consistency, cumin, and whatever veges & potatoes I have around. Often on rice. Usually 2-3 bowlfuls.
Vege stirfry - with either tofu (half to a full container, frozen & defrosted so it gets this spongy texture, that I soak in soyasauce, thai chilli, garlic and other spices), or some beef cut into strips. On... rice. Ok, I like rice. And everytime I've eaten a lot of bread & pasta (ie boyfriend diets), I've been less healthy.
A big plate of it. Maybe another small portion of it later, if I ate early.
Stuff like that?

I'm used to eating a lot, but my Mum brought us up vegetarian, and you can pretty much eat as much lentil soup as you want, and it's really filling. The same quantities of pasta? Not so good.

I walk everywhere, live close to town, no car. My weightlifting consists of carrying veges home on the weekend, occasionally dancing, and sometimes I do judo, yoga or rockclimbing with friends. Not much at the moment though.
I feel at my best when I'm doing something that constitutes vigorous exercise twice a week. Exercise for the sake of exercise seems utterly pointless to me, so instead it's just something that is incidentally exercise to my main priority of it being interesting/fun/I'm learning something.

I'm in the normal bmi, but don't pay any attention to my height/weight. I think my body looks pretty good naked, and I like thinking that it is strong, and healthy, and lets me do the things I want to do. I have a personal superman/napoleon complex, and just presume I can do more than other people, despite my average height not seeming to bear that out, but it turns out confidence seems to affect strength quite highly.
I do have a vague idea now what my weight/height is, because as an adult, I tend to have my 'normal' weight (and height isn't changing, curses!), the turning point was after getting teased about puppy fat as an 11 year old, they made the mistake of teasing me about something else that I felt strongly about, and I decided screw it, they were all obviously *dumb* and I wasn't going listen or pay any attention to them. That turned into I was very deliberately not going to weigh myself etc, because as far as I could see, that way lay crazyness with teenagers and adult women. One of the decisions from that age I can be truly thankful for.
posted by Elysum at 10:48 PM on July 8, 2010

I'm 43, 6' and somewhere around 170lbs.

I cater my portions based on activity level - obviously I'll need to eat a heartier breakfast if I have a day of biking compared to sitting at my desk all day. I avoid most prepared or processed foods, fast food and mystery meats (bacon, sausage). But I have no qualms about the occasional large fries and such.

1-2 slices of toast, coffee, water, 1-3 pieces of fruit. Saturdays are pancake days. On an active day I'll eat oatmeal or rice and milk.

A couple of pieces of fruit.

A salad. No meat. Or a lunch box with vegetables and rice. 1-3 pieces of fruit. I find meat makes me sleepy so I have stopped eating it during work days. I don't need that much protein anyway.

Nuts, fruit.

I do most of my eating at dinner with a usual hour walk with the dogs afterwards to settle my stomach. Dinner is usually home cooked with potato/rice, 3 vegetables, a meat dish, a piece of fruit for desert. Serving size is based upon how hungry I am but I load up on vegetables, not meat.

I've stopped drinking pop of any kind and limit my coffee to the morning. I drink far more water since giving up soda.
posted by cmacleod at 12:51 AM on July 9, 2010

Here's me yesterday.
I'm female, 32, 5'6, holding steady at 132-138 pounds for the past 8 years or so.

What I did:
it was a weird day when I ran a lot of errands, so I ate a lot of processed quickie food; I'd call this an unusually unhealthy diet day b/c of all the processed stuff I ate. I played tennis for 1 hour and a not-too vigorous game of catch for 1 hour, walked for about 30 minutes and rollerbladed for about 15 mins. It was stinkin' hot all day, so that also affected my appetite.

1 large cup of black tea with about 2 tablespoons of 2% milk
2 Clif bars: one at 8am and another at 11am

Lunch (2pm):
1 Michelina's frozen entree, not a diet variety- I think it was Swedish meatballs and noodles
1 pitcher of unsweetened iced tea (2 black teabags in 1L cold water, steeped overnight in the fridge)

Second lunch (6pm):
1 slice pizza- thin multi-grain crust with chicken, broccoli, red peppers, mozzarella, and goat cheese

Dinner (11pm):
~10 small round multigrain tortilla chips with salsa
1 ear of corn with a pat of butter the size of a chiclet and some salt
4 leaves of romaine lettuce topped with 3 crushed tortilla chips, a handful of canned corn niblets and maybe 1 tablespoon low-calorie salad dressing
1 chicken breast, barbecued- some seasoning but no added fat or carbs
2 old-fashioned cocktails (so 2 shots of whiskey + 2 tablespoons sugar)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:59 AM on July 9, 2010

Salt, fat and sugar train your taste buds to crave salt, fat and sugar. Salt isn't directly fattening, but is affiliated with things that are: chips and other highly processed foods with too much salt, fat, sugar, and empty calories. Non-caloric sweeteners keep you craving "sweet." So, it will help to migrate towards a diet with less salt, fat & sugar. Substitutes don't really help, in the long run.
posted by theora55 at 8:08 AM on July 9, 2010

Ditto what others have said about how this might not be helpful for you and all that. Keeping in mind. But since you asked...

I've recently reformed in a lot of ways and now buy into the idea of eating way more often and making each time healthier than it used to be. I used to routinely skip breakfast or even wait until 4 or 5pm to eat on days off (I know, crazy). I'm getting better and finding when you eat solidly 3 times a day if not 5, you're never hungry despite not taking in any more calories. I figured this out from doing some intense food journaling initially to see what was what and was shocked I could stay under 1300 calories every day and be eating so much.

I still have cheat/lax days--once or twice a week, usually on days off, usually involves social gatherings and/or eating out--but ironically cheat has now become synonymous with "eat less often."

Breakfast (actually often broken up into first-thing meal and mid-morning snack):

This is my most ambitious and therefore strictest meal of the day--the idea is to pack as much calcium, fiber, and nutrients I discovered via food journaling I'm chronically low on into the morning as possible in the most unthinking rote way I can, so I can just do it while I'm a half-awake zombie and forget about it. I also give myself a decent head start protein-wise, since one of my goals is to take in plenty of protein and restrict carbs. So...

-some high fiber, low or no sugar cereal (Fiber One has a certain variety that fits the bill, so does All Bran, and Uncle Sam is ok in a pinch)--the trick here is to make sure you're measuring at first, because wow, one serving of said cereal is likely not as much as you think it is. and I'm leery of grains even the "good" ones after reading up on nutritional controversy, so often I even cut that serving smaller.
-milk or Greek yogurt with whey protein powder sprinkled in
-fresh fruit, usually berries 'cause you only need a bit of 'em and they're full of fiber plus they're a favorite of mine esp. this time of year
-some supplements, I wish I could do without them but it's just too hard otherwise: acidophilous, psyllium, and omega 3 capsules. and a lactaid for the milk.
-2 cups regular coffee max, with a splash of the milk thrown in
-when I'm still thirsty, water

occasionally I'll mix it up--instead have a yogurt, no-added-sugar nut butter, flaxseed meal, and fruit smoothie and ditch the omega supplement and protein since they've been replaced, etc. or eat jicama slices with peanut butter and a glass of milk. sometimes an egg or omelet, though i'm not that into them first thing in the morning. stuff like that. but the targets stay the same--most of the day's fiber, as much calcium as I can absorb at once, and some protein. This allows me to be way chiller about the entire rest of the day. I feel like no matter what, I've already worked on what's most been concerning me about my diet.

protein + veggies. obviously that's a huge array of options--eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, tofu, plus big salads (leafy or composed--my favorites are mushroom fennel lemon and parmesan, cauliflower caponata, grilled eggplant with feta, and tomato and some green veggie with cheese) or whatever. chicken salad, tuna salad, tinned fish with tomatoes and leafy greens, a tomato filled with tuna salad or shrimp salad...often a wee bit of fat and dairy too--cheese, nuts, seeds, salad oils (I don't like a lot of dressing though honestly). the rule of thumb for me is no more than 30g protein (since it's hard to use more than that in one go so any more would be wasted), or about 1/2 a chicken breast or a 4 oz ground turkey patty. i will admit right now i have the luxury of eating at home; I know this would be harder if i didn't. this is the leanest feeling meal of the day to me, and the majority of what sustains me--it usually feels like more food than dinner, since my dinners tend to be richer and by then i'm not very hungry anyway. oh, and water! occasionally beans or lentils are involved, often with tuna...

Possible Snack:
(I exercise right before dinner, and don't find it makes me eat more afterward. Occasionally I will have a little snack around exercise time, something like a glass of orange juice or a few nuts or a piece of string cheese. Other things I've thought up as good snacks are roasted seaweed or edamame or olives or pickles or cottage cheese or guac or other good homemade dip+veggies. I confess lately after reading so many retro cookbooks I kind of have a grotesque curious drive to make some savory summer jello, i.e., aspic, and see if it's edible ha. But lately I can't bring myself to eat it--I still feel so full from all the other eating!)

also 1 part (30g or less) protein + 2 or more part veggies. similar rules of thumb though usually for dinner for whatever reason i ditch the traditional salad for more distinct vegetable sides and this time of year something like cold steak or marinated tofu. usually also for no good reason this tends to be the meal i step it up and make sure the protein component is iron-rich (cough, red meat or the right seafood). example dinner: cold slices of london broil, roasted or steamed asparagus, sliced tomato salad with some homemade shallot vinaigrette. sometimes part of the veggie component is endive or romaine hearts used as filled scoops for nutty or peppery or avocado and tomatillo-y dips I've already made. artichokes, cucumber, brussels sprouts, cabbage, leeks, whatever. i esp. like veggies roasted. water! and this is the meal i usually allow myself on occasion a more obvious carb source--whole grain tortillas or pasta or whatever. not often though.

Evening Snack:
I almost never have room for dessert when I eat like this, I mean so often (which is now my default), but once in a blue moon if I do I tend to limit it to the following sorts of things:
-2 glasses red wine
-treaty cheese liked aged cheddar or camembert
-nuts or seeds
-a couple squares of my favorite dark chocolate, something like cote d'or or dagoba

I had to realign some things to get to this point. My goals are for the major meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) getting nearly max protein so on average by the end of the day I've gotten around 90g (I'm 5'3, given the past and my body composition should weigh around 120 to 130, and moderately active), getting all my calcium by having 2 or 3 hefty servings a day, eating 4 or 5 servings of veggies (I double up for lunch and dinner so it's easy), limiting fruit intake (1 serving a day, usually breakfast/morning or after exercise), and doing my damnedest to cut carbs unless it's for fiber reasons or comes from a non-starch veg. I was worried about fat at first but the more and more I read the less I am, I was monitoring it for a while but not lately. I feel great but I'm still working on losing a bit of weight--I didn't have a ton to lose in the first place in terms of pounds, but on a short frame it feels insurmountable, that weight is stubborn! But I also feel incredible and even if the measurements aren't that different the composition is--I'm much firmer now, and stronger.

I was going crazy with the water at first as people often say you should and decided it was sort overrated--I drink a glass or two when I'm thirsty (usually after exercise), and with every meal, and now I'm fine. TMI but if pee color is any indication this is, bizarrely enough, working better than before when I was forcing myself to drink what felt like gallons of water and peeing constantly and feeling weird. Other than coffee, tea, or alcohol (the latter two are very occasional), all I drink is water.

I usually cook with butter or saved animal fat (schmaltz or pork fat), canola oil, or coconut oil. I usually dress salads with olive oil. When I'm making Asian sauces, I use a bit of sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, but not for cooking, just flavor. I keep a zillion vinegars and have a disturbingly vast herb and spice collection. And citrus juices are my best friend as far as flavoring foods goes.

When I'm out on cheat days, they are indeed cheat days, but eating like this has reconditioned me, I confess. I'd much rather go for the juicy burger with mushrooms and Swiss or bacon or whatever and forgo the fries (I never thought I'd stop being obsessed with fried potatoes!) , or get tinga or ceviche and be pleased as punch. I never had much of a sweet tooth to begin with, but I miss baking as often for my husband, the act, not eating the result (thankfully he's a cake glutton so it never goes to waste :). Must get back into doing that!

I still believe, even with all this carb controlling/demonization, in general variety is the way to go. Change it up as much as possible, even if you're keeping to a general blueprint about what the final nutrient goals are.
posted by ifjuly at 8:56 AM on July 9, 2010

Response by poster: @punchdrunkhistory Thank you for that link, it's pretty much exactly what I was looking for. That person is apparently a much better question-asker than I am.

@decathecting I feel like you are misinterpreting my intent, believing that I am looking for a way to be "effortlessly thin." That is far from the case. First of all, I'm not looking to be "thin". My goal is 160, which for a 5'4" woman is not thin but it would be a much healthier weight for me and might actually be realistic for me to maintain if I can figure out some diet & exercise changes that wouldn't be too unpleasant to adhere to long-term. Second of all, I am willing to make an effort to eat more healthy stuff, adjust my portion sizes within reason and exercise moderately. If my goal can't be attained that way then I'll have to rethink it, but I'd like to give it a try.

I just don't think it is a bad idea to find out what people who are not fat and who eat pretty much what they want are actually eating. To see if "what they want" is different from the stuff I generally want to eat. To see if they have room for regular indulgences because they cut back somewhere else and they don't miss it too much. I'm not looking for justification to eat crap for every meal just because some people can do it and never gain an ounce (because I already know that's not going to work for me.)

@everyone Thanks to all who posted, there is some really good info here.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:14 AM on July 9, 2010

Do non-dieting people generally stick to those portions too?

Less of some actually. Weeks will go by when I won't touch a single slice of white bread, but I do eat a slice of sprouted grain every morning. When it comes to pasta, rice or a tater, generally I eat 1/2 to 2/3's of a portion or, sometimes none at all, like last night where I had papadums (made from lentils) instead of the basmati rice. Few days ago it was teriyaki chicken with pineapple on kaisers, I cut the kaiser in half and, even then, I didn't eat it all. The foods I'm mindful of most are calorie dense or, refined carbs because I've found the latter doesn't satisfy me, actually makes me hungrier and sicker (I find refined carbohydrates contribute to my chronic migraines) you can take the refined carbs from my cold dead hands far as I'm concerned.

Breakfast is a slice of sprouted grain bread with jam (low sugar varieties because they taste better), cream cheese, peanut butter and banana or an egg depending on the day. Four cups coffee with milk and sugar.

Lunch is either a fruit smoothie using whatever I have on hand with 1TBSP of protein powder OR, a fruit salad with 1/2c yoghurt on top and, some flax seed OR, an apple, walnuts (7), cinnamon, flax seed and, yoghurt OR, salad OR, left overs from the night before (yesterday it was the other half of the huge teriyaki chicken breast, grilled pineapple on some salad).

Supper yesterday was Indian food; a papadum with a minced beef keema, a potato and cauliflower dish called aloo gobi, about a 1/4 of a sliced red onion, a grated carrot and coconut chatni with cumin and, some imli chatni (its a food of the gods).

Generally I have one portion of protein, the 1/2 to 2/3's of a carb mentioned above (if I had my way it would be whole wheat pasta and, brown rice, but the other half refuses to eat them and since there is only the two of us to cook for it seems pointless to cook two of those) and, two or, more servings of vegetables. I eat lots of salad. Lettuce or spinach with tomatoes, cucumbers, green onion, pumpkin seeds, sweet bell peppers with flax and pumpkin seeds. Some times I'll add more veggies or, a bit of feta cheese or, olives. Low on the salad dressing (hmm ... no more than a tablespoon or two tops).

If I'm hungry before supper I'll grab a carrot or, some pumpkin seeds. If I have a sweet tooth after supper I'll grab some candied ginger OR, dried fruit (love apple slices and pears) OR, some fresh fruit. I don't snack every day.

I eat out between 6 and 12 times a year, indulge once or twice a month. Sometimes mixing it up by having cream cheese and, jam on toast at breakfast for instance is enough to satisfy whatever craving I had for something more "sinful".

Btw, I work from home and, I cook everything from scratch.

But if that were true, if there were a way to eat sensibly without deprivation or hard work, and still lose a lot of weight and no longer be fat, don't you think everyone would do it?

Hard work at times, yes. But I'm not so sure about the deprivation part, I guess its all in how its parsed as to what that means. For me its no skin off my nose if I never eat at [insert fast food joint here] again and, even when I was overweight I didn't eat like that very much. I often times think people see a diet as a short term solution where you deny and deprive by eating low fat this and, sugar free that then, treat the chocolate you just ate as a moral failing. Self flagellation soon follows. I've been down that road and, it always wound up in failure. This time I did eat sensibly, do indulge once and awhile, don't skimp on things I like (like full fat yoghurt or, butter on my popcorn) and, I lost around 75lbs. Initially I thought my weight loss was medically related, because I wasn't dieting at all (I'm eating things I like, rarely feel hungry or, deprived and, I've lost more than a pants size ... what in the hell!? *rushes to the doctors office*) I just started making much much better choices, eg: gone are the days of making 450gr of pasta for two and, eating about half of that. Its two years plus later and, the make up of my diet is no different today than it was when I started losing the weight.
posted by squeak at 11:44 AM on July 9, 2010

I eat six meals a day, and come in at around 1500 calories a day, when I'm not restricting. I eat a small portion of protein, a portion of complex carbs, and a portion of fruit or veggies. I'm not exactly "normal." I'm doing a bodybuilding contest right now, for example, and I'm restricting calories a little to get cut.

But the five or six small meals a day is pretty standard for me. I'm never, ever hungry. And on high calorie days (when I hit close to 2000 calories), I am stuffed to the gills. My food is pretty normal, I think, just no fried crap, and nothing doused in heavy sauces (which I tend not to like anyway). I eat a lot of chicken sandwiches, and tuna and beans and whole wheat pasta (Costco has the tastiest brand), and rice, which I adore. Veggies are varied. I grill out a lot, too, at least once a week. And then one day a week I give myself room to eat out, and I eat whatever I want, just a small/normal portion. None of these huge plates, and I don't take leftovers home anymore.

I eat a lot of stuff that *seems* like junk food, but isn't. I make a killer fried rice for breakfast, that's low in calories, but crispy and delicious, just the way I like it. I've found that 1/2 to 1 tsp of Earth Balance in a cast iron skillet is just enough to make a cup of fried rice. It's one of my favorite breakfasts.

Your question is a hard one, because what is a "normal" portion of food varies according to individual metabolisms. When I was twenty, I ate a lot more than I eat now, and a lot differently, and I was skinny, skinny, skinny. And when I'm not training, I eat a mostly vegetarian diet by preference (I only eat meat occasionally in restaurants). Also, a "normal" portion of food is going to look different depending on how many meals a person eats.

Some of my favorite meals are pretty simple. Celery stuffed with peanut butter is one of my favorite treats for example. I do a lot of smoothies, with soymilk or yogurt and fruit and protein powder. My favorite breakfast is 1/2 cup oatmeal and a soy sausage patty, with 1/2 cup of fruit.

Regarding satiety, there are several rules of thumb. One is that protein tends to be "filling" for some reason, and fiber, quite obviously, is also. Simple sugars/carbs burn off quickly (white bread, white rice, fruit and juices). Fat is also filling. The best meals have a mix. Oatmeal and a "sausage" patty keep me full for four hours or more, though I eat more frequently than that anyway. For me, it's the fiber that does the most: orowheat sandwich thins, brown rice, oatmeal (not instant), 7 grain cereal (hot), unhulled barley (ohmygod, so delicious).
posted by tejolote at 7:12 PM on July 9, 2010

My system (I'm 6', 175 lb, lean muscle):

I walk to work, so I get approximately 10 miles of walking per week. Three times a week I run 3 miles. And, I do yoga 3 times a week for an hour each. Finally, I walk or bike to most other places, usually avoiding the car.

I eat a lot of food high in fiber, the further from processed, the better. That obviously means that I avoid most everything in the center of the grocery store. But, it also means avoiding processed grains, breads, cheese, and a lot of dairy.

At the beginning of the week I cook a bunch of food for breakfasts and lunches. I bake some sort of muffin for breakfasts. Or, I use leftover crepes from the weekend, and I fill them with jam or jelly and some nut butter. I cut up a few different types of lettuce, wash them, and put it in a big container. I make a vinaigrette of some sort. During the week, for lunches, I will make a salad with the lettuce and vinaigrette, and add a dried fruit, a nut, croutons, other veggies and some cheese. Salad isn't enough for lunch, so I'll usually bring some leftover from the night before, or I'll have a rice salad.

I'm fairly social, so I eat out often. That means, pastas and burgers sometimes, or dim sum or Thai or Ethiopian or tapas at other times. drink a lot of alcohol. Usually two glasses of wine a night, or some cocktails or beer. I don't know if that's the reason why, but I'm rarely very hungry at dinner. If I go out to eat, I sometimes can't even finish my dinner, because the portions are too large.

I have not always been this way. In my mid-twenties I was 225 lb. I used to drive a lot more, eat alot more processed food (out of the box), more pastas and breads and cheeses.
posted by TheOtherSide at 6:18 AM on July 10, 2010

I cook everything from scratch. Want a chicken pot pie? Great; bake the chicken, get fresh carrots and peas, make my crusts from scratch. I think the result is that I get really yummy food with far less fat, sugar and salt. I have small plates and regular plates. I mostly eat off the small ones, not because I do portion control but because I tend to clear my plate and I tend to eat fast, that way I space out my eating and generally only go back for seconds if I'm super hungry. Oh and too much sweet hurts my teeth or gives me heartburn so I dilute fresh juice 1 part juice to 5 parts water - it tastes better.

Breakfast - 2 scrambled eggs with cheese and toast, OR toast with goats brie
Coffee with milk and honey

If from cafeteria: hot meal with rice
If from home: rice with lentil sprouts (easy to do at home), tahini and soy sauce, some fish or meat
Several pieces of fruit
Sometimes yogurt

Chicken pot pie (from scratch)
Wraps, made with fresh sprouts, hummous, tahini, and noor as the wrap, other veg, rice and tofu optional
Wiener schnitzel (from calf filet) breaded and fried in olive oil with lemon
Sauteed veg with olive oil
posted by zia at 12:27 PM on July 12, 2010

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