Is Eating the Exact Same Thing Every Day Bad For You?
The #mealprep movement has plenty of fans – all you need to do is search the hashtag on social media to find an abundance of inspiration for healthy dishes you can prepare in bulk, which will save you time and money.
But while eating the same thing every day may be convenient to some, it can get boring and repetitive to others. Here, we discuss the pros and cons of eating the same every day.
What are the benefits of eating the same thing every day?
1. Reduces decision fatigue
Imagine how mentally exhausting life would be if you had to wake up every day and decide whether to brush your teeth or put on your seatbelt. These are the decisions we make on autopilot and are built into our routines. Routines and habits are often mentioned by successful people as a driving force behind their achievements, as it can help to prevent decision fatigue and free up mental energy for other important decisions. The same could translate to food - if having prepared meals that are the same each day helps you create better routine, which then has a positive effect on other areas of your life, it could be beneficial for you.
2. It can be helpful for weight management
Some research has shown that eating the same foods consistently can result in reduced caloric intake in women. When there are a wide variety of foods available, you may increase the amount of food you eat by sampling different foods, and inadvertently delay feelings of fullness or satisfaction. By eating the same foods every day, you may find it easier to stick to portion sizes rather than overdoing it when eating new or different foods.
3. It can help to build healthy habits
When it comes to nutrition and healthy eating, it’s all about building habits and consistency. Eating the same every day can take the guesswork out of ‘what’s good and what’s not’ so you can focus on getting into the habit of eating healthy at each meal.
4. It can help with nutrient targets
For most people, aiming to eat protein at each meal is ideal to help with appetite management as well as muscle mass maintenance. Finding a healthy and balanced meal plan can ensure you do reach these targets each day, as it reduces the variability of day-to-day intake. In the same way, someone who has a specific goal in mind around weight or body composition may also benefit from a structured plan to help keep them on track.
5. It can be budget-friendly
Having a plan of the same rotation of meals you eat can make it easier to stick to a food budget. It can be overwhelming going to the grocery store without a plan in place, and this is often when ‘extras’ make their way into the trolley. Knowing exactly what you plan to eat for each meal can make it easier to stick to the grocery list when shopping and prevent extra snacks or meal deliveries throughout the week.
What are the disadvantages of eating the same thing every day?
Although there are some potential benefits to eating the same every day, there are certainly some negatives to this as well. From a health perspective, a diet that includes a variety of different types of foods - particularly plant-based ones - is a diet that promotes good health in the majority of people. Eating the same foods every day may mean missing out on the variety of nutrients that different foods provide. Here are three of the biggest cons of eating the same every day.
1. Eating the same foods will likely get repetitive and boring
The saying “variety is the spice of life” certainly applies here. Eating the same foods every single day is likely to become repetitive and boring for most people. This might then make you more likely to fall off the wagon and let those good healthy habits go by the wayside. For many people, approaching nutrition with flexibility rather than a rigid structure is actually the best way to develop long-term healthy eating habits.
2. Diversity helps to improve gut health
The gut microbiome has a key role to play in many aspects of health, including digestion, weight management, mood and risk of chronic diseases and certain cancers. Research has shown that a healthy gut microbiome is one with a variety of different types of bacteria, which are fueled by incorporating a variety of plant-based foods in the diet. This include whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and extra virgin olive oil. The magic number to aim for gut microbiome diversity is more than 30 different plant foods per week. Hitting this number might be difficult if your eating patterns are too rigid across the week.
3. Food isn’t just about nutrition
Food provides a source of comfort; it’s often centred around social occasions and has cultural significance, too. If eating the same foods every day means missing out on the occasions where food is consumed purely for enjoyment or cultural reasons, then this may have negative impacts on your general wellbeing and mental health.
While there are some pros and cons to both ways of eating, the variety of different foods in the diet is beneficial for the majority of people. If you do enjoy meal prepping, why not try meal prepping two different meals for the week as opposed to just one? Or choose meals that can have a range of ingredients added to them rather than minimal ingredient meals to ensure you do still get plenty of variety in. Another alternative is meal prepping your breakfast and lunch for the week, and ensuring dinner is different every day. Whatever method of meal prepping you do, you'll soon realise it really can save you time and money.
Always seek the guidance of your doctor, dietitian or other qualified health professional prior to starting a new eating plan.
Explore more content like this in our series, Ask a Dietitian.
Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney Dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.
Forgot to meal prep and now you need to order UberEats? Don't stress, a dietitian has rounded up the healthiest takeaway options on UberEats here.