Daley produced an inspired display to win Great Britain's first medal of the diving competition against strong American and Chinese opposition.
He told BBC Sport: "I gave it my best shot, I gave it absolutely everything. I can't wait to see my family and have a massive bundle. To be honest I was very nervous, I went in to it with a do-or-die mentality.
"I put everything into it. I was in first place going into the last round but didn't have the degree of difficulty I needed to hold on. The main aim here was to get a medal. I've lost seven-and-a-half kilos.
"I've made so many changes and I can't wait to go and eat what I like. An Olympic bronze medal, I can't believe it."
The 18-year-old had struggled in qualifying but was in excellent form when it counted to end his Olympic Games on a medal-winning high.