Most of our days end thinking about the next day’s meal plans in mind. We debate over the choice of veggies for sabji, rice or roti for lunch, idli, dosa or poha for breakfast and finally, sprouts or fruits for snacks. These are only the main dishes and their sides, choice of sprout for salads, the different fruits for snacks and the dal preparation for rice/roti are yet to come. Awwwwwww! How good it would be to eat the same foods every day without a slight change here and there through the entire week? It seems to be the smartest idea that could save you all the time, thoughts and preps that go into preparing a variety of foods to satisfy your taste buds but on second thoughts, boredom strikes. Any search for a healthy meal plan or weight loss plan immediately lands you on a page where there are colorful small containers (similar to the ones available in kitchen toy sets) containing bright-colored veggies and fruits neatly cut and stacked. Office-going individuals feel it advantageous to sort out their entire weeks’ meals over the weekend and prepare for it as much as possible to save time, remain healthy and save energy. But how good is it to repetitively eat the same food every day? Let’s measure up their advantages and disadvantages!
Calorie intake never goes overboard: Calories are not the only specifications of nutrition, but they do play a major role when it comes to weight loss and health implications. People on a weight loss always seem to have some calculation going on it their mind forever that they would have not done so much math even during their school day! For such guys, diligently following the same meal plan everyday simplifies these calculations. Do it once and it holds good forever. Also, eating the same food helps you feel full early as you are not tempted to eat any more of it. Have a spread of items on the table and your taste buds are extremely tempted to sample all of them!
Planning becomes easier: Repeating the same food frequently helps you cut down your meal planning and preparation time. You know the ingredients required, the perfect recipe for making the meal and the time taken too. Prepare a batch of them over the weekend and use it over the week. This avoids temptations to eat out and also saves precious time after coming back from a hectic day at office.
Saves money: The week might start on a high-spirited note and you eat nutrient-rich foods but as days pass by your mind starts to wander, ingredients become fewer and tasks grow bigger. Finally, most end up ordering out. While many think that eating nutritious food is only for the rich the process that goes in between all the cooking up and ordering out equalizes for the extra amount you shell out to prepare healthy food. The variety of produce you stock inside your fridge might not be used before they go stale and the grocery cart might be filled with unwanted ingredients when you simply toss them in without having any clue in mind about the plan for the week. Having to eat the same foods over the week gives a crystal-clear picture of the produce and ingredients needed and saves your money by deleting all the unwanted ones from your cart.
Saves you from stress: Stress due to meal planning would be the last thing anyone would wish for! Seriously, decision making doesn’t stop with office or monetary issues but extends to your meals too. A study found that people who were forced to decide many things, stressed badly or tired were less likely to choose healthy foods. These were also the ones who mostly failed in fulfilling the recommended servings of daily fruits and vegetables intake. Having too much in mind and spending more time on the net looking through various recipes makes you order from outside finally! Eating the same food simply saves you all the time spent on the net, the stress of having to decide on some new dish every day and makes your life simpler.
Reading through the pros many would have already decided to prepare a menu plan just like the hostel mess or hotel lunch menu. Wait. The solution is not that simple and all these advantages come not without a touch of negative consequences attached to it. Weigh the cons before deciding.
Lacking nutrients: Giving your child the same dosa or cheese paratha for every meal is not the idea of a well-balanced meal. Our bodies need a variety of nutrients in the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins. That’s why every dietitian recommends her clients to eat at least three portions of rainbow-colored fruits and vegetables daily. Get in touch with our reputed dietitians/nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can help you with your healthy planning tasks and recommend meal plans based on your requirements. Eating only apples or bananas is not the goal. You must focus on eating various foods within each food group too to equip yourself with all required nutrients. For example, instead of choosing to eat only brown rice for meals, try other options such as roti or millets too. Likewise, eating spinach is great but you need a generous amount of carrots too to replenish vitamin C and A needs along with your folate from dark greens.
Not good for the gut: Our gut bacteria play a major role in deciding our health status. A research says that eating one kind of food provides the ground for a single species of bacteria to thrive upon and establish supremacy. What we need is a balanced growth of good bacteria in the gut that’s diverse which is possible only when the diet is diverse and inclusive. Another study has shown that absence of diversity of gut bacteria leads to obesity and abdominal fat.
If the meals that you eat are loaded with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and proteins this promises a great start to a healthy lifestyle as you have already included all the five food groups in your meal planning. All you need to do is twist and turn recipes and come up with some innovative ones to complete your healthy eating requirements. Studies too have found a varied meal plan to hold an advantageous edge over other ones. But it also depends on ‘what’ you eat. Also, if you always have rotis for dinner try pushing it to lunch and prepare something with millets for dinner once a while. Salads as sides during lunch is great. Add variety by using different ingredients at times (such as edible flowers, seeds or exotic fruits at times). If you want to try a new dish try doing it over the weekend when you have some extra time. If it turns out to be good you can prepare an extra batch that can be used over the weekdays. Core is to keep rotating ingredients, eat a well-balanced meal that includes all food groups and avoid from going monotonous on your meal preparation. Just like how variety is the spice of life, one needs to include a variety of foods in your meal plans and preparations to keep your taste buds alive and your mind warm with joy.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.