You’ve likely heard that eating a wide variety of foods is the healthiest way to eat. In fact, many government food guides have included “food variety” in their recommendations for a healthy diet. If the government says it then it must be true, right?
There certainly are benefits to including a variety of foods in your daily or weekly meals, but there are also great reasons why sticking to a few favorites can actually help you eat healthier, lose weight, and get in shape more quickly.
Here are 4 reasons why food monotony is better than food variety.
1. You Don’t Need a Wide Variety of Foods to Get the Nutrition You Need
There are quite a few nutritional requirements that should be reached each day through the foods you choose to eat. There are vitamins and minerals, protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates – All of these need to be taken in through food.
Fortunately, you can get all of the nutrition you need from a relatively small selection of super-healthy foods. Just think back through history and this makes a lot of sense: Rarely, if ever, have people enjoyed access to such a variety of foods that we do today. Historically, people have thrived by eating the right foods, not by eating a wide variety of foods.
2. You Gain a Better Understanding of What You’re Actually Eating
Imagine sitting at a restaurant and the waiter presents you with a huge platter of food for dinner. He asks you to take just enough to fulfill an appropriate single portion. Would you be able to do it?
The vast majority of people can’t. Research has shown that when presented with unfamiliar meals, people over-estimate a proper portion size by more than 20%. That’s a lot of extra food and a lot of extra calories!
On the other hand, eating consistent meals allows you to familiarize yourself with what you are actually eating. You gain an understanding of how many calories are in your meals, how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you taking in, and what the ingredients are. Knowing all of this makes it much easier to eat without over-indulging.
3. You Can Save Time and Reduce Your Stress
The #1 reason why people aren’t in as good of shape as they would like to be in is that, “There just isn’t enough time.”
Coming up with new meal ideas takes time spent researching, time required to collect the necessary ingredients, and then time spent preparing the actual meal. That’s a lot of time that could be put to use in other healthy ways (such as exercising).
In addition, feeling pressure to come up with new recipes on a daily or weekly basis can become a source of stress. Contrast this with the comfort of eating a more monotonous diet. It’s easy and can mostly be done from habit, which means fewer decisions have to be made and less stress is created.
Anything that can be done to save you time and limit your stress will have a positive benefit for your ability to lose weight, get in shape, and stay healthy.
4. You Can Build Confidence in Your Ability to Master Healthy Eating
Nobody likes to experience failure. That’s one of the reasons why so many people fall off the wagon when it comes to exercise. They take on a workout routine that’s a bit too ambitious and end up quitting once a little failure (i.e. missed workouts) start to creep in.
Setting unrealistic eating expectations can lead to the same trap. Yes, it would be great to cook a new healthy meal every single day, but is that realistic?
Anyone can become a master of healthy eating if they start small. Learn a handful of healthy meals and you will build confidence that you can eat a healthy diet. It doesn’t have to be fancy – It just has to work for you!
How You Can Take Action
The benefits of eating a wide variety of healthy foods do exist, but they are often overstated. Keeping your meals simple and frequently reusing your favorites is a great way to reduce the amount of work associated with healthy eating.
A great way to get started is by finding just one recipe for each of breakfast, lunch, and dinner that is easy to prepare, includes lots of fresh ingredients that you normally stock in your kitchen, and is enjoyable to eat.
Let these be your go-to meals and then slowly begin to expand your options by introducing new recipes over time. Happy eating!