This is a place where we smash diet culture. Meaning, there is no room for fad diets, eliminating food groups, juice cleanses or glorifying "clean eating." This blog is meant to bring truth and shed light on the fact that ALL foods provide us with energy no matter what. Food is meant to be enjoyed and my goal is to ultimately remove the guilt and shame that diet culture may have taught you & nurture a positive relationship with food.

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September 1, 2019

Why Food Variety is Key to Nourishing Our Body Daily

The chicken, rice, and broccoli meal prep idea for dinner every night has got to go…..We as human beings are heavily routine oriented and almost pride ourselves on these daily routines we develop to live more efficiently, but it can also become “tedious”. I will be the first to admit that I too have daily routines, I would be late to work all the time without them. However, if there is one area you don’t need to build a rigid routine around it’s the variety in your food choices!

Today, many of us fall into a trap of feeling like food is a “chore” or you “find food boring”. Hearing this makes me teary eyed because eating can be such a culinary adventure on any given day. Every moment you choose to nourish yourself is also a moment to care for and energize your body as a whole. If you think about it, your body is continuously working hard to digest food, allocate broken down macro- & micronutrients to different systems of the body, killing off cells, building new ones, etc. All in an effort to keep your body functioning.

Consequences of Food Monotony

Colorful variety of tomatoes

Studies have shown effects of monotonous food consumption leading to “a persistent decrease in the pleasantness” of foods consumed regularly. You may also go through food swings where you haven’t consumed an item for more than 3 months which can cause those foods to become highly desired.(1) Understanding this could open your eyes to choosing new foods every so often to spice life up a bit and not get stuck in low variety food habits.

What Can Low Variety Food Habits Look Like?

  • Times in your life where you had a low interest for cooking food
  • Rotation of the same 3-5 recipes over and over again because they are “easy”
  • Low desire to cook and opting to eat at the same restaurants on your way home from work
  • Buying the same items every week during your grocery haul because its what you know you will eat

Providing your body with the optimum variety of nutrient density is something YOU can develop to help the body function at its best. The positive side is YOU make the choices on how to fuel your body every day, several times a day. That allows you a number of opportunities to fuel your body the nutrients and energy that it needs. Remember, no one food or superfood contains all the nutrients we need in optimal amounts.

Food First Mentality:

Vibrant variety of berries containing high levels of antioxidants.

Something to be cautious of is the attempt at supplementing a low variety food intake. Time and time again we hear that studies continue to prove the correlation of increased health benefits from an increased intake of fruits and vegetables which is where we find a lot of antioxidants and micronutrients. However, when studies have tried to look at a single antioxidant or vitamin they have found an inverse relationship to be true. (2,3) This has sparked suggestions that different nutrients require synergistic actions in order to beneficial. Meaning, when you consume a variety of whole food sources not just the supplement form they act together to provide those touted “healthful” benefits.

Moral of the story is our body thrives when we fuel it with what it needs. By rotating different grains, proteins, vegetables, fruits, and fats you are setting your body up to meet your personal nutritional needs.

Don’t know where to start adding variety?

The local farmers market always has great seasonal produce choices

11 Ways to Help You Create More Variety:

  1. Buy yourself a new and exciting cook book to use
  2. Find 1-2 new recipes to try each week
  3. Buy at least one vegetable you’ve never tried before
  4. Go to your local farmers market to help discover new fun foods
  5. Try a different cooking method from what you normally use (i.e roasting, sautéing, grilling, etc.)
  6. Buy 5 different fruits for the different days of the week
  7. Meal plan for 2 different types of easy on-the-go breakfasts
  8. Try a new protein source (tuna, sardines, bison, tempeh, etc.)
  9. Create raw vegetable snack packs, except you mix and match vegetables for different days
  10. Take a cooking class for a great way to learn how to prepare unfamiliar foods
  11. Meal planning and including one new food per week

Check out my monthly seasonal produce lists on my Instagram Seasonal Highlights for an easy way to find cheaper produce and help you get that variety.

Citations:

1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. “Effects of Food Quality, Quantity, and Variety on Intake.” Not Eating Enough: Overcoming Underconsumption of Military Operational Rations., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1995, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK232454/.

2. Omenn, G S, et al. “Effects of a Combination of Beta Carotene and Vitamin A on Lung Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease.” The New England Journal of Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 May 1996, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8602180.

3. “Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT): Questions and Answers.” National Cancer Institute, https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/research/select-trial-results-qa.

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