I woke up this morning, read the Dining Section of the Times (I’m not embarrassed to admit I read that first) and headed to Twitter. A few of my nutrition colleagues had posted a link to an article from U.S. News and World Report entitled “Why an All-‘Superfoods’ Diet is a Mistake” which makes a strong case for dietary diversity. For example, even though blueberries are packed with antioxidants and fiber, one should “eat a rainbow” and vary food choices as different foods offer different nutrients and potentially different protection against disease. Another interesting point is that eating a wide array of food may result is less exposure to contaminants, such as mercury, and pesticides.
It is hard to dispute benefits of “playing the field” when it comes to your food as far as your health is concerned. However, when it comes to weight loss variety isn’t always your best tactic. I was in session with a client yesterday, I’ll call her CM. CM is trying to lose weight and, for the most part, is doing a great job. She’s exercising 4 times a week, cooking more, keeping her food journal and eating “good” carbs. Impressive, right? I think so but there’s a catch. CM is grazing after dinner. Its healthy grazing: a little dark chocolate, some berries, perhaps some high fiber crackers with almond butter- but it adds up. The problem, as I so scientifically call it, is there’s a pupu platter. It’s the buffet syndrome, the more foods we have to choose from, the more we eat. Research supports this.
So what did I suggest? I suggested CM choose 1 snack per week as her designated dessert. This week it’s mixed berries. The other items are off the menu, for now. So yes, for weight loss I suggested CM limit her variety. Many of us have a time of the day where we tend to loosen up. The 3 main times are mid afternoon, after work and after dinner. Try organizing or standardizing your choices and you may feel more in control and eat less. In this case, and perhaps with snacking in general, being a creature of habit is O.K. maybe even better.
Are you someone who thinks “variety is the spice of life” or are you a creature of habit? What do you feel is the better way to swing?