Whenever I discover a new favorite food, I want to eat it for every. Single. Meal. When I first made polenta with fresh herbs and olive oil, I found myself whipping it up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner more times than I care to admit. These days, though, I only eat polenta about once a week, since it's not really the most balanced meal. But honestly, if I added just a few key ingredients, I have to wonder if I could get away with a fully polenta-based lifestyle. But is eating the same thing every day bad for you? According to experts, you're probably OK eating some of the same foods on a regular basis, but when it comes to nutrients, the more variety the better.
As far as Gabby Geerts, a registered dietitian at Green Chef, is concerned, eating the same foods on the reg is totally OK — as long as you don't eat only those foods. "Routine is comforting and can be a strong backbone to a healthy diet," she tells Elite Daily in an email. "If you find some core, nutrient-dense foods that you enjoy, it is encouraged to add those to your everyday diet."
That being said, Geerts explains that switching up some of the ingredients you're eating is important to help your body function optimally. So for example, if you love having smoothies for breakfast every morning, stick to what you love, but just try experimenting with different combos like banana and almond butter one day, and yogurt and berries the next.
However, according to Alida Iacobellis, MHSc, RD, owner of ALIVE Nutrition Solutions, your best bet is to change things up more often than not in your diet. "Variety is one of the keys to optimizing nutrition and ensuring that we avoid nutrient deficiencies, and you just won't have enough variety in your diet if you are eating the same things day in and day out," she tells Elite Daily. Since different foods contain different nutrients, limiting your diet too much might keep you from getting certain goodies. Blueberries, for example, are a great example of a healthy food. But if blueberries are the only fruits you ever eat, you'll be doing yourself a major disservice, because you won't be getting, for instance, the high potassium content of bananas.
One way to tell if your diet has enough variety is to see how colorful the foods are, says Kelly Krikhely, MS, RD, CDN, a nutritionist based in New York City. Of course, she's not talking about Skittles or Starburst, but rather, the colors that come from plants. "The more colors you have in your diet, the better," she tells Elite Daily in an email. "Not every vegetable provides the same nutrients — in order to get an array of nutrients, you should aim to consume a wide range of vegetables."
Krikhely adds that the same goes for getting protein from a variety of sources, since Greek yogurt, eggs, and fish all contain protein, but they also all have their own unique micronutrient profiles.
Nutrition aside, eating the same couple of meals for weeks on end can become pretty boring over time, which could even take a toll on your emotional relationship to food. "You may start disliking meal times, or even going into a sort of food depression (not a clinical diagnosis)," explains Melissa Mendez, a certified transformational nutrition coach. "Your taste buds get triggered when you’re eating new items, which creates a dopamine hit, which in turn makes you feel pleasure," she tells Elite Daily in an email. "If you’re not tickling those taste buds with new experiences, it can create some really boring, dull meal times."
If you're having trouble shaking yourself out of a food rut, one way to get your cooking creativity flowing is to experiment with meal delivery kits, suggests Iacobellis. "[They] can be a convenient option to help spice up your routine and give you some exposure to different foods, flavors, and cuisines you might not be used to," she explains.
Another way to broaden your food horizons, says Iacobellis, is to pick out one veggie or cut of meat you've never tried each time you go to the grocery store. Then, search online for easy recipes you can make to feature the new ingredient, so that you have some guidance for how to cook with it. Who knows — you may even discover a new favorite food.