IT’S EASY TO stick to a familiar routine and prepare the same meals day and after day- especially if you’re getting the ripped results you want. Is this, however, the healthiest way to eat? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of eating the same thing day after day.
If you’re daily meals include loads of fruits and vegetables, than you’re taking in a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients (plant chemicals that help fight and prevent disease). Also, when you have a plan in place it means you’re less likely to make a fast food run or grab the endless bag of chips. It takes time to mentally prepare to eat healthy and plan everything out, so kudos to taking the time and having the motivation to do so. Think about when you first started working out- it took time to plan when you’re going to work arms verses legs and when to fit in your cardio.
Finally, a 2015 study found that a more diverse diet was associated with a greater waist circumference. The study also found that those with a higher diet quality had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that it’s possible that eating a greater variety of foods can lead to eating both more healthy and unhealthy foods, ultimately leading to weight gain.
If you eat the same thing day after day, you can miss out on different nutrients that you may not be eating (plus, it can get super boring!). For example, if you do not include any fermented food in your diet (like Greek yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut), you are probably not getting enough probiotics. If you’re not eating a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables, you may also be missing out on phytochemicals. You want to take in purple, white, red/orange, and dark green vegetables—the greater diversity of colors, the more good-for-you nutrients you’ll be taking in.
Studies have also found health benefits associated with eating a more diverse diet. A 2013 study with over 5200 people found that the greater diversity of healthy foods was associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. A 2002 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that increasing the variety of healthy foods can increase your life span. Researchers concluded that if you increase the number of healthy foods regularly, you also tend to decrease the number of less healthy foods consumed on a regular basis.
If you’re eating the same thing daily, shaking up your healthy food repertoire has numerous health benefits. You need to, however, make sure you’re adding healthy food to your meal plan- as opposed to empty calorie “junk” foods. Start slowly, perhaps by 2 new recipes a month into your rotation or by swapping out your usual fruit, vegetable, nut, or lean protein. Do whatever makes you most comfortable and able to stick to a healthy eating plan.
by Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D.