Is variety always the spice of life?
For most of my adult life, I’ve been willing to try almost anything when it comes to food. Beef tongue tacos? When prepared correctly—love ’em. Borscht (beet soup)? Vibrant and one of my favorites. Chocolate covered bacon? Surprisingly delicious combination of sweet and savory.
But is variety the spice of life in every eating scenario? I’ve recently come to the realization that the answer to this question, my friends, is a resounding “no.”
Impossible, you say. Eating the rainbow is essential to optimal health, they say. Hear me out, I say.
When it comes to changing your eating habits, I contend that variety is not the spice of life. Whether you’re making these changes out of curiosity or necessity, it isn’t the time to try seven different dishes in as many days. This approach has made my stint with any number of eating philosophies short-lived. From Paleo to slow-carb to slow cooker mania, my time with each was brief.
In putting some thought into why, here’s what I came up with.
Those well-meaning weekly meal plans that the latest food gurus put so much time and energy into just don’t seem to work for me. Yes, I still believe that the most useful tool in your kitchen is your weekly meal plan. However, if it’s too complicated or unfamiliar, chances are good you won’t stick with it for long. Go ahead and plan your meals for the week, but make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. How?
Keep it as simple as possible. That’s it. Here are a few tips on how:
- Choose one or two things to prepare for breakfast. For me, making a pan of crustless quiche is ideal because then I don’t have to think about what I’m going to make for several mornings. I can also switch up the meats and vegetables for a change in flavors whenever I want. The possibilities are endless, but I’m keeping it simple.
- Leftovers at lunch are perfect. I can simply pack them up the night before as we’re clearing away dinner. Sometimes there’s enough of everything to pack a full meal. Sometimes I use the leftover protein to make a big salad that gives me everything I need. Either way, I grab it the next morning, and in the afternoon I don’t have to be tempted by the siren call of the drive-thru.
- For dinner, look up recipes for your favorite meals. Whether you’re going sugar-free or low-carb or whatever, someone has created recipes of your favorite dishes with these principles in mind. If your dinners are familiar and comforting, they’ll help keep you on track. Later on, once you’ve seen the benefits of your dietary changes, choose a night when you have some extra time to introduce something new.
Being open to variety is a wonderful quality, but there’s a time and place for everything. When I’m changing my eating habits, especially in the beginning stages, variety just hasn’t been it for me. If you’ve found the same thing to be true, don’t beat yourself up about it. Put variety on the backburner for now and add the spice later.
How do you set yourself up for success when changing your eating habits?
Image from iStock/monkeybusinessimages.