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Variety in Eating

  • Eating

It’s important to know how much variety you want in your eating. Some people are perfectly happy eating the same few dishes over and over. Other people would be bored to tears having the same meal more than once in a week. Recognizing your need for variety or sameness can make the difference between enjoying food and engaging in unwanted eating because you feel dissatisfied.

I have a friend who rotates three different lunches every week—tuna, turkey or chicken salad. That’s what she enjoys eating mid-day. And she pretty much eats the same thing for breakfast and her evening snack because she loves having a routine of healthy, satisfying foods. I know other people who live on chicken or chicken and fish and others who don’t care what they have for dinner as long as it’s some type of red meat. Many people, in fact, find pleasure in eating the same foods repeatedly, that is, as long as they’re dishes they enjoy. They take their favorite foods and just keep on eating them.

Other people crave variety and love to get take out or dine out. They delight in having a meal they’ve never tasted before. They love novelty and would sooner go without than eat something they had yesterday and the day before. A new food adventure is enormously satisfying to them. If you adore mixing it up with food and have the time to cook exotic dishes or get someone to cook them for you (a partner, spouse, roommate, personal chef or restaurant), then go for it.

A problem arises, however, when you’re not sure how you feel about variety or when you believe you should be different than you are. Maybe you crave various kinds of food but fear you’ll overeat them, so you narrow your options in order to feel safe. If so, you’re probably not satisfied with the same old same old and end up breaking out into unwanted eating due to sheer boredom. Also, some people who enjoy a food routine may feel pressured by others to try something different. They may give in reluctantly, feel unsatisfied and wind up overeating. Remember, whether it’s sameness or variety, no one can tell you what foods you “should” enjoy!

Consider how you feel about routine foods and variety. Maybe you enjoy eating the same foods repeatedly during the week, but want to break out with different ones on the weekend. Maybe breakfast and dinner can be repeaters, but you crave something outside the box for dinner. Knowing how you feel about food novelty versus routine goes a long way toward finding satisfaction and preventing unwanted eating.