Fear not if you like a daily turkey sandwich. Variety may not be as important as you think.
Some of us have died-in-the-wool dietary choices. We like what we like on a regular basis. It’s also convenient to rely on the same proteins, veggies, and carbs day after day rather than seek out the diversity many nutrition pros preach. But is it okay?
“The surprising answer is yes. I tend to eat the same meals 75-95% of the time. Regular food habits can be healthy. First and foremost because it’s hard to buy, stock and prepare lots of different types of food each day,” says Brian St. Pierre, R.D., director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition. “There’s benefit to having healthy go-tos that you like and can get into the habit of eating.”
One such benefit: It minimizes the number of food decisions you make in a day. “We tend to overthink food nutrition already. I work with lots of clients and find that if you can automate some of those decisions and have a bit of a routine, you’re more apt to make healthy, diet-positive choices,” says St. Pierre.
That said, it’s plausible that, for some people, eating the same stuff day in and day out could cause problems such as indigestion, bloating, headaches or fogginess. But that’s likely a small part of the population, says St. Pierre.
The key to avoiding nutritional deficiencies is not to eat chicken, rice, and broccoli three times a day or the same protein shake three times a day, warns St. Pierre. “But if you look good, feel good, and perform well, it’s not a huge concern if you like a daily turkey sandwich.” Here, St. Pierre’s tips for a minimally-rotating routine.
1) Establish go-to breakfasts and lunches
"For clients I generally recommend 2 to 3 recipes to rotate for their breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Then they can vary their dinners because people tend to like more diversity in the evening."
2) Vary your accompaniments and snacks
If you like eggsin the morning, just change up the veggies you put in your omelette, having mushrooms and peppers one day, tomatoes and spinach another, and so on. Nutritionally, little things make a difference. For weekly snacks, just swap the type of fruit you eat or the type of nuts or nut butter. But know that you’re also going to be fine if you eat an apple every day. "I have a Gala with every lunch. It’s part of my routine," says St. Pierre.
3) Be creative with condiments
For that daily sandwich, go ahead and stick with turkey or chicken but cut the monotony by changing up your healthy fat sources, alternating between olive oil, pesto, or avocado.