WAKE UP, EAT muesli, drink coffee, go to work. It can be all too easy to repeat the same meal cycle day in and day out. We’re creatures of habit, and when we find foods that we like, we tend to stick with them.
But while this is great for meal prepping and helping us avoid the bag of M&Ms in the cupboard (usually), nutritional research suggests it isn’t ideal for our health. Here’s why.
The downsides of a repetitive diet
You wouldn’t let your child live on a diet consisting entirely of chicken nuggets, so why should you do the same? Eating the same foods every day — even if they’re healthy — can potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies, as you are restricting the types of macronutrients your body is ingesting. For instance, you might drink plenty of milk, but are you getting enough probiotics through things like yogurt?
A 2002 study showed that women who consumed a diet rotating between 16–17 healthy foods had a 42% lower risk of mortality than those who consumed a diet rotating between 0–8 healthy foods. Eating a single additional piece of healthy food minimises the risk of death by a further 5%! Eating a repetitive diet may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Poorer gut health
Eating the same foods every day can reduce the diversity of good bacteria in your gut. Your gut flora is vital for maintaining your overall health and promoting weight loss and a healthy immune system. Eating a varied diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics can help boost gut microbial diversity. So next time you’re shopping for a 3pm pick-me-up latte, opt for a kombucha instead!
Loss of pleasure
I’m sure you can relate to the feeling of disappointment you experienced as a child, opening your lunchbox and finding a vegemite sandwich for the fifth time that week. Eating the same thing all the time gets boring fast! You should feel good about what you’re eating and look forward to lunch time. Food is vital for our health but it is also something to be enjoyed, which is why so many people find it hard to switch to vegetarianism. Plus, mixing it up can help you stick to a healthy diet and get the most nutrients into your body.
Heightened risk of disease
A study in 2015 found improved metabolic health was associated with a varied, healthy diet, whereas a repetitive diet could increase the risk of hypertension, excess fat, metabolic disease and HDL cholesterol.
How to get variety in your diet
You don’t have to say goodbye to all the foods you love — you just need to adapt them every once in a while. If you love a good banana smoothie in the morning, try popping some chia seeds and kefir in to mix things up. The next day, have an almond and berry smoothie instead.
Of course, you can always try making a new meal. If you’re the kind of person whose dinner menu consists of Bolognese and fish and chips, try making an easy chicken stir fry for something different. There are plenty of recipes out there to inspire and guide you. You don’t have to make the most exotic meal out there; choose something that looks appealing and don’t be afraid to give it a go.
And remember, it’s not always going to be amazing the first time you make it — give it a few tries and you’ll quickly become a master. Who knows — you might even find your new favourite food!
Eating a healthy, varied diet is key for ensuring good overall health, a positive mood, and a stable appetite. It can even prolong your lifespan!
— Isabella Gardner
Isabella is the head of content Chill Radio, she has a keen eye for detail and she is passionate about healthy lifestyle, food and discovering new recipes.
IMAGE: Author supplied.