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same_food

This week, I had a question from a listener calling in all the way from the UK!

The question: “Is eating the same food everyday good or bad?”


Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 910 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.


Eating the same food everyday is not so bad, provided that you are eating a balanced diet.

Eating the same NUTRITIOUS foods every day is a goal that I have often set for patients that are hoping to lose or maintain their body weight. This is because too many choices can be overwhelming. And that doesn’t just apply to those that are hoping to manage their weight. All of us are susceptible to being overwhelmed by too many choices. There’s actually a term for this: decision fatigue.

How Grocery Stores are Organized

Let me try explaining it this way: why do so many stores have cheap and often useless items located in the checkout line?

It’s because by the time we are ready to leave the store, we’ve already made so many tough decisions, our ability to make a good one has exponentially decreased. That’s why these products are called “impulse buys.”

I’ve had the experience of spending quite a bit of time at my local grocery store, after navigating a very busy parking lot, and as I was waiting in line to purchase my cart-full of items, decided that 10 packs of gum for $10 was a great deal. I then got home only to realize that buying a year’s worth of gum was probably not the best idea.

This same phenomenon applies to everything, including our food choices. After a long day at work, school, traffic, the kids, the pets, paying bills, etc., it’s often difficult to find the willpower to workout or plan a nutritious meal. This is why it’s often easier to remove the decision-making from the equation altogether. That way if we eat pretty much the same foods every day, it makes life a bit easier.

So, I would say eating the same foods every day is fine, but may not be ideal. That’s because even with a well-planned, nutritious diet there may be some micronutrients you may still be missing. For example, we are realizing that there are some powerful antioxidants in various foods, that when combined, may make for a pretty powerful combination of potential disease-fighting compounds. So, by sticking to the same foods, you may be missing out on these combinations. I’ll try explaining it a different way…

Mixing Things Up for Better Benefits

same_food

Let’s use exercise as the analogy this time. Let’s say a client tells me that they consistently walk for 60 minutes every single day, without fail, I would respond by saying, “That’s fantastic!”

This is because this regimen would likely keep their heart and lungs healthy and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would prevent many chronic diseases. But at the same time, sticking to this same workout routine may not help them reach their body’s full potential. If they were to mix up the routine a bit and incorporate a bit of high intensity training, maybe some flexibility, and some resistance training, they may come closer to realizing their full potential and possibly better prevent other diseases as well. So incorporating some variety might be beneficial.

Dietary Guidelines

Back to the diet question — I realize not all of our listeners are American, but many of the American dietary guidelines are similar across most industrialized nations. So, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, most adults are to consume:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the vegetable subgroups including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy and those that fall under the “other” category. The ideal is to consume at least 5 to 9 combined servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Whole fruits
  • Whole grains
  • A variety of protein-rich rich foods such as seafood, lean meats, beans, nuts and seeds
  • Consuming healthy fats while limiting saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sodium

An example of a healthy fat would be avocados. Now, when it comes to these healthy fats, it’s still a good idea to watch those portions. Consuming an entire, medium-sized avocado would contain anywhere from 200 to 300 calories. A medium avocado would be weight about 150 grams. One serving of avocado is considered 1/3 of a medium-sized one which would be about 50 grams or 1.7 ounces. So, not much!

To conclude, if your current meal plan is well-balanced and contains lots of nutritious same food, you’re off to a great start. But, if you want to truly maximize your potential, consider substituting some foods you commonly eat with those that you don’t eat as often.

Tags: food
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Neal Malik

Dr. Neal Malik leads the Master of Science in Nutrition for Wellness program and teaches core courses at Bastyr University California. He has a Doctorate in Public Health from Loma Linda University and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine.Send in your health related question and Dr. Neal will answer it on the Optimal Health Daily show!
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