Variety is the Spice of Life

“Why should we vary our diet?”

“Should we try new foods?”

“Why should we switch up our workouts?”

“What if I don’t like ______?”

 

I hear these questions quite a bit!

Variety is the Spice of Life!I’ve been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist since 2007 and have been counseling hundreds of new clients each year. During this time, I’ve realized I am not in the majority when it comes to trying new foods, new recipes, new activities, travelling to new places, and well, I LOVE variety in most areas of life. Most people are creatures of habit and like to buy the same foods EVERY time they go to the grocery. People who go to the gym they might do fairly the same exercise at the same time every day they go. Many people like to travel to the same beach every year instead of venturing to a new place to explore. And, I understand if you enjoy something, why switch, right?

Although I have things that are my favorite, I’m usually open and excited about trying something new whether it’s new foods, new vacationing spots, or making new friends. Being adventurous prevents monotony that can sometimes happen in life! Maybe there are some disappointments, but usually I think “at least I tried it!”

 

Why is variety important?

The simplest answers are:

  • Variety in the diet helps ensure you are getting a wide variety of nutrients to boost energy, prevent deficiencies, and help prevent disease. There are more details in this article .
  • Variety can also help prevent the development of food sensitivities, which is especially important in those with gut permeability even healthy foods can become inflammatory in a person that has gut permeability if they are eating those same foods over and over.

 

Why should you switch things up in your diet if you are feeling bad? How do you do it?

It’s possible the very foods you are eating every day could be the foods that are making you feel bad. How will you know unless you do some swapping? My first obvious suggestion is to get help from a practitioner (like me!) specializing in this area.

You could consider the LEAP MRT program, but if you’re not ready for that step, first (if you haven’t already) try “cleaner” eating as a start. If you normally eat a fast food egg/biscuit/cheese sandwich and a cappuccino for breakfast, try making your own breakfast burrito and tea or coffee at home, where you have more control and you can reduce the added preservatives/dye intake in your diet.

For people just getting into the “real food revolution”, I like to use the Whole 30 foods list as a guide to the best, nutritious food choices. Since there are already so many great clean-eating websites out there, I’m not going to re-create the wheel here (Here’s one of my favorite sites. This link specifically goes to some fun lunch ideas on the 100 Days of Real Food website.)

Start with some tweaks in your diet choices, then consider further support and testing if you don’t feel the changes after a month or so of positive diet changes.

 

How can you retrain your taste buds?

With kids, the best way to teach them that healthy foods are important (and delicious) is to eat them yourself. Don’t make a big deal about it….try not to bribe them with other rewards for eating their foods. Offer healthy selections and eat them and enjoy them. They will continue to see this and learn to like them…eventually 😉

To retrain the taste buds, with both kids and adults, it’s all about try, try again!

First, taste one bite (ideally when in a good mood!) of whatever it is you think/know you don’t like. Perhaps the next day or week, try another bite or two. Keep doing this over the course of the next few weeks. You want to have tried the food at least around 7-10 times. As long as no serious issues are happening such as an allergic reaction/burning in mouth/tingling/etc, you’re safe to continue to challenge foods like this and eventually the body will learn it’s an OK food! Perhaps this won’t work with ALL foods, but this is a great thing to work on with kids and yourself.

Another key to liking certain foods is finding a way to prepare them differently than how you originally started disliking them in the first place. Here’s an example: If you grew up eating mushy overcooked cauliflower, I’d strongly suggest trying a good recipe of roasted cauliflower…simple, easy, crisp, & delicious! Refer to the video below, though many times I simplify it even more and just drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt/turmeric.

 

 

I challenge you to start adding a little more variety to your food choice each day! Maybe you can start sprinkling salads with hemp hearts/pumpkin seeds/bean sprouts?! Or add some Swiss chard to your stir fry?! Or maybe just try roasting broccoli and cauliflower instead of microwaving or steaming it?! Whatever it may be, I encourage you to try some new things and let me know about it in the comments below!