Is it OK to each the same foods every day? For example I eat grilled chicken, broccoli and applesauce numerous times a week. Are there any significant health risks to such monotony?

It is easy to fall into a routine of eating similar foods each day. To be honest, I caught myself doing that a few years ago. I had oatmeal every day for breakfast and a turkey sandwich for lunch each day during the week. I completed a dietary analysis on myself and realized that I was deficient in a few vitamins and minerals. I realized that I had fallen into a food rut. I was comfortable with eating the same foods each day because I liked knowing that I was not going to be hungry when I was done and was not going to feel too full. I also realized that I had just gotten lazy at the grocery store.

Eating the same foods each day may be a good or bad thing. If the “same” foods you consume consist of burgers, fries, and ice cream, then your diet will be deficient in important nutrients and will be filled with saturated fat and cholesterol. However, if you are significantly overweight, and the “same” foods are fairly nutritious and are helping you lose weight, then I feel it is acceptable for a period of time (remember Jared with the Subway advertisements?) Research actually shows that too much variety (especially of foods high in calories, fat and sugar) can lead to overeating and weight gain.

If you are comfortable with the same types of foods each day, then at least strive to include all of the food groups. Make sure you are getting at least 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits per day for the disease fighting phytochemicals. Be sure to choose lean meats, low fat dairy, and focus on adding monounsaturated fats when possible (olive oil, nuts, avocados).

If you are interested in breaking out of the monotony, challenge yourself at the grocery store. Head down aisles that you do not normally travel and spend time looking at different products. Choose brown pasta/rice over the white variety. Experiment with different types of produce (choose a different colored fruit or vegetable a week). Expand your palate by trying new ethnic cuisines (Thai, Japanese, Indian food all contain very delicious and healthy dishes). You may also wish to get your friends involved. Coordinate a dinner club where you meet at each other’s houses once a month and a new dish is served.

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