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Thread: Is diversity necessary nutritionally?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    Is diversity necessary nutritionally?

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    I'm starting up again tomorrow, after failing over and over last year due to not realizing that you can't do primal and "almost no fat".

    Every time I've ever had success in any dietary plan, all some form of CW or low-carb, it's been when I limit my choices.

    Remember that scene in The Matrix where on board the ship every meal is a slurry of nutritional goo that "tastes like Tasty Wheat"?

    That sounds great to me. For me limiting food options would change things from "which of these things do I want?" to "Am I going to fall off the wagon or not?" A much easier question to answer in the twisted world of my psyche.

    I became convinced to start again after trying J. Stanton's Paleo Scramble and realizing that it was not only delicious, it was downright decadent.

    So my question is this. How bad an idea is it to do paleo with very few choices? I realize most people need variety to keep from going crazy, but not me. I'm worried about the nutritional impact of eating the same thing over and over.

    What I'm thinking is a diet of eggs, ground 80/20 beef, some onion, some spinach or romaine in a salad. I'm thinking of getting some pemmican for inter meal cravings. As I move along I have no problem adding something here and there to boost up the nutrition.

    From a nutritional standpoint, am I crazy?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    South Georgia
    Here's a recent post from Mark on the subject.

  3. #3
    Kristy2078's Avatar
    Kristy2078 Guest
    You do need a variety of foods for better nutrition. Some foods have more of vitamin A and others have more of B, for instance. Then there's the different types of fats, like a steak and an avocado. I think you are stressing too much over nutrition when you could eat just about any fruit, veg, meat, etc.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by chris q View Post
    So my question is this. How bad an idea is it to do paleo with very few choices? I realize most people need variety to keep from going crazy, but not me. I'm worried about the nutritional impact of eating the same thing over and over.
    In what way?

    Is it the thought that you may be missing some important nutrients by "kitchen laziness" (or whatever you want to call it)?

    Or is it that you're worried if you keep eating the same few things you may cause intolerance to one or more of those foodstuffs?

    Or is it something else again?

    I think it's generally a good idea to eat a fairly wide variety of foods. I'd suggest just how important it is is anyone's guess. If you look at healthy populations—say people in the Hebrides in the 1930s—you don't necessarily find a lot of variety. What you do find is very high quality foods—better than are easily found in many cases nowadays.

    I guess you could use a tool such as fitday to track micronutrient consumption for a week and see if your chosen foods leave you a bit low in certain nutrients. Those figures are approximate, of course, and the RDAs are not necessarily correct anyway. But that's one thing you could do.

    I don't know a lot about food intolerance. Dr O'Bryan—the guy behind all those Cyrex Labs tests—says if you keep eating the same food day after day you risk a reaction to it. Maybe he's right. But maybe it depends on how good your gut flora is. (This is something very static views about "good" and "bad" foods miss: not to say that some foods aren't really best avoided.) But many of us have some degree of gut dysbiosis anyway—thanks to doctors handing out antibiotics like M & Ms.

    Those are the two issues that occur to me. I don't think anyone could give you a proven definite answer to the second one.

  5. #5
    chris q:

    I'm glad the recipe works for you! I still eat the Asian version as a major component of my own diet.

    And I absolutely hear you about making it simple to stay on the wagon by limiting choices: if you have to think about what you're going to eat every time you eat, it's tempting to make a poor choice. Whereas if you simply say "This is what I eat" - especially when you enjoy eating it - you avoid the stress of making a choice. Making a difficult choice takes energy: see Restrained Eating: Willpower and Why Diets Fail

    Personally I wouldn't worry so much. The Irish ate a diet of basically 100% potatoes and were fine...and the Scramble is far more varied and nutritionally dense, being made of fatty meat, eggs, veggies, some butter or coconut oil, and some form of potato as the starch (or white rice, if you're OK with that). It basically contains all the ingredients of the diet of many traditional cultures - and though the default aims for PB-friendly carb content, you can tweak it to be anything from zero-carb to high-carb by adding or removing potatoes/rice.

    Plus, you can add just about any vegetables you want to the recipe, and you can put avocado slices or other toppings on it. As I say in the "recipe", it's really a single skillet cooking technique.

    Recipe in question: “The Paleo Scramble”, A Basic Technique For Real-World Cooking
    Last edited by J. Stanton; 08-14-2011 at 11:48 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    I read Mark's post and the comments on it, and all the posts in this thread. (Thanks for the input!)

    I went off and thought about it for about an hour while I was doing some housework, and I came to a decision.

    I'm a six foot tall, 42 year old male who weighs 307lbs. Dinner last night was a big hero style deli sandwich followed by an entire bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies. The night before it was burgers. The night before that it was Chinese Lo Mein noodles.

    My problem in every other attempt to transition to primal has been the transition. I need to get over the hump. Is eating the exact same thing every day (meal) the best path for rest of my life? No, probably not.

    But what it will do is help me break through the barrier that's keeping me back. I'm going to do the same food every day. I'm going to supplement. I'm going to exercise. Once I get to that place on the other side that people describe -- "Wow, I can't believe how good I feel!" -- I'll look at incorporating some diveristy.

    The way I see it, I may be lacking some macro/phyto nutrient that's in pharmaceutical grade peruvian purple rutabagas, but I'll be wildly ahead of where I've been. This is a process and I can't think of step two until I've mastered step one.

    Thanks all.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Tucson, Arizona

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Alberta Canada
    Better to do primal the way you can handle it than to end up cheating because you are trying to get diversity and have it not work for you at all.

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    A joyful heart is good medicine

    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

    Mmmmm. Real food is good.

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    London, Ontario, Canada
    I think you can do it Chris!

    I've been eating a pretty limited diet since I started primal in March. I'm not bored of it yet and I'm down 37 lbs in total.

    Eggs & bacon most days for breakfast. Once in a while a protein smoothie (maybe once a week).
    Big ass salad with half an avocado for lunch. I do switch up the protein component - maybe cold beef, tuna, salmon, shrimp, eggs.
    Big ass salad with half an avocado for supper. Again, whatever protein is going. Once or twice a week, I switch out the salad for some kale, chard or cauliflower and half a sweet potato.
    Always frozen berries and coconut milk for dessert.

    If I need a snack in the afternoon it's usually an apple and some almond butter.

    I find my diet easy to do - I always know what groceries I need, it's tasty, and I find it satisfying. I supplement with Vit D, fish oil, multi-vit, magnesium and B12.
    Last edited by belinda; 08-14-2011 at 05:29 PM.
    Newcomers: If you haven't read the book, at least read this thread ... and all the links!

    Jan. 1, 2011: 186.6 lbs PBSW Mar. 1, 2011: 175.8 lbs
    CW: 146.8 lbs
    GW 140 lbs
    A proud member of PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    You know, you do what you can do. That's it.

    Would it be better in the long run if you had variety? Sure. But if it keeps you from sticking to good food, then the answer is No. Maybe sticking to a few good foods will work to break the cycle, and then you can add in other foods as you get more comfortable with this way of eating. Make sure you take a GOOD supplement to help make up for whatever you're missing, then check through some of the recipes here and online, and if something looks interesting, go for it. Add it in to the mix or not. It's up to you.

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