The Importance of Variety in Nutrition

Variety in nutrition is as important to being healthy as changing our routines, trying new things, and doing more than moving one part of our body as our workout. I have certain foods that I like a lot, so I find it very easy to slip into a routine of very similar things all the time. However, I also know that if I give myself a range of different ingredients throughout the week, I’ll also be giving my body lots of different nutrients.  Still, for me, it’s more than that.

My Challenge with Variety in Nutrition

Variety in Nutrition for SeniorsIt’s easy to see why variety in nutrition is important to your body.  After all, if I eat eggs for breakfast one morning and yogurt the next, I’ll clearly be enjoying completely different nutrients.  One meal will help to give me what another might have lacked.  It’s not as though I could imagine eating yogurt for every meal of the day and expect to consider that a balanced diet after all.

Still, it’s easy to slip into habits that don’t change things up very much. Four to five days of the week, I have the same breakfast. It’s because I’ve formed a routine around it.  Monday through Thursday or Friday, I get up, put on the coffee and, yes, make a yogurt with fruit, nuts and seeds. It’s delicious, and I enjoy the pace of putting it together as the coffee brews. Once the breakfast is ready, so is my coffee, so I can sit down and enjoy it while I read the news or just enjoy what the morning looks like outside.

Then lunch comes around. I don’t like preparing lunch. I’m not sure why. It could be that this used to be the time I was most likely to meet up with friends to eat.  Now I meet up with them, but for other things like a walk. We’ve fallen out of the habit of sharing meals. I rarely focus on variety in nutrition for this meal. It’s more likely to be something to get over with so I won’t be hungry during the afternoon. I tend to gravitate toward one of two different options.

So, it’s all on dinner to shake things up!

A Focus on Dinner

If Peter and I order a meal from a restaurant, I tend to have one of two things that I usually like from a given place. It’s difficult for me to try new things from those places because I like the things I’ve found so much. I look forward to them. I don’t want to give them up for a maybe.

Most of the variety in nutrition therefore comes from the dinners that I – or occasionally Peter – prepare. As a result, I’ve tried to be quite adventurous. I learn about new recipes and ingredients I’ve never tried before.  I do still make the old standard meals, of course, but I try to make them no more than once or twice per week.

This leaves the rest of the week for new combinations, recipes and ingredients.  This is how I place my focus on variety in nutrition. If I’m eating the same breakfast and nothing exciting for lunch, my mental and physical health can rely on my dinners.  Even if they’re just tweaked a bit from the usual, in my mind, it counts.

If I’m ever uncertain as to how much variety in nutrition I’m getting, I just try to think of how many colors I’ve had on my plate over the last couple of days. That will usually give me the answer. A friend of mine tallies up how many different plant-based ingredients she has in a week, aiming for no more than 30, but ideally more than 35 (she counts everything from coffee and flour to apples and carrots).

Whatever your method, I do encourage you to focus on variety in nutrition. It feels good, not just for your health, but for overall interest and enjoyment, too!

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