Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
6 Jul

How Important is Food Variety?

produceI eat a pretty monotonous diet. I’m not averse to new foods or cuisines, and I’ll try just about anything, but my regular, day-to-day food is consistent and reliable. Check out a week in my life if you don’t believe me. Breakfast is either coffee, Primal Fuel, and/or an omelet. Lunch is usually a Big Ass Salad. Dinner consists of a meat/fish, something green, and a glass of wine. Occasionally, I’ll throw in some sweet potatoes, macadamia nuts, or berries, and if I eat out or have guests over I’ll mix things up, but that’s essentially it. I like the food I like, it keeps me satisfied and fueled, and it’s nutritionally complete. It’s also one less thing to worry about in an increasingly busy life.

I think most people have go-to meals, especially in the Primal community, where cooking the bulk of one’s meals oneself to avoid Neolithic poisons is the norm. You get comfortable with a certain range of dishes, you buy the same stuff at the market, you perfect your technique, and you’ve had success with these dishes in the past… so why change? It’s also not very realistic to whip up new dishes every single day, dishes that require this amount of some random spice or obscure vegetable that you’d never use for anything else. Cooking big complex meals is fun for a change, but it’s not realistic for everyday eating. This is true all across the world and, I imagine, across history. People have always had staples that they stick to, especially if they cook most of their own food – as mankind has done for most of its history.

But “monotony” is kind of a bad word. To many, it means boring, unfulfilling, onerous, and miserable. We in the Primal community often mention the “monotony of Chronic Cardio” as a detraction, so I’m not exempt. We like dynamic movement that passes through all three planes and uses multiple joints. We often speak of “fractals” and randomness, like choosing to walk across an uneven landscape or skipping meals just because. So, on the face of it, food variety seems like a natural extension of the Primal lifestyle.

And for the most part, I support food variety. There are clear benefits to eating a wider variety of foods:

  • Access to a wider variety of micronutrients and phytochemicals. Think of all the various antioxidants associated with the greens, reds, yellows, purples, and oranges in fruits and vegetables. Think of how vitamin and mineral content differs between foods.
  • Dilution of food toxins. Food toxins usually operate in a dose-dependent manner, so keeping a variety would help keep the doses low and spread thin.
  • Food enjoyment. Eating the same three things is a sure path to food boredom. Eating should come with a serving of sensory enjoyment.

Let’s take a deeper look at that food boredom thing. People like novelty, and food boredom is a horrible, horrible thing that certainly leads to bad food choices. I mean, who’s more likely to crumple and go for the vegetable oil sugar fritters (also known as donuts) – the guy who eats the same Big Ass Salad every single day or the guy who can’t stop talking about the latest Senegalese/Burmese/Ukrainian joint he hit for dinner last night? You might guess the salad-eater, since he couldn’t possibly enjoy eating the same thing over and over again, because, well, it just seems so boring and variety is the spice of life! The guy with berbere under his fingernails is surely immune to the allure of a novel industrial food-like substance, given his cosmopolitan appetites.

Let’s use a little logic here. Salad guy is an adult with the ability to procure or prepare the food of his choice. If he so wished, he too could be the guy who insists on ordering “Thai spicy.” Instead, he eats that same salad every single day. He chooses to eat that same salad every day. To me, that suggests not food boredom, but food contentment. Big difference. Boredom’s bad, contentment is great. The adventurous guy seems a bit bored, to be honest. Maybe not bored, but perhaps boredom is lapping at his heels and he’s doing all he can to keep it at bay.

Contentment and boredom appear similar to an observer, but they’re really not. Boredom is a projection, not a description. Because a daily salad would bore the onlooker, he or she assumes the salad eater is bored. To the salad guy, the daily salad is a beautiful, satiating thing. It’s like that “boring couple” we all know. They’re boring homebodies, but they’re probably content. Besides, who knows what kind of sexual escapades are going on?

Food contentment is really another word for habituation, which can actually be quantitatively measured in humans via salivary response to food. Yep, it’s not just dogs who subconsciously drool at the sight of food. Humans do it, too. So, by measuring the salivary response, we can gauge whether someone is habituated to a particular food. And obese and overweight people do not habituate to food as quickly as normal weight individuals. In one study, when presented with lemon-flavored candies, both normal weight people and successful weight loss retainers (former overweight/obese who lost and maintained) showed quick habituation, i.e. they stopped salivating after a few candies. Obese people did not show habituation. Their salivation did not cease or slow down. Their bodies craved that lollipop every time it was offered. You might think that it’s a genetic thing, that folks with the “non-habituation gene” are more likely to get fat, but the fact that the former obese all showed quick habituation makes that unlikely. It’s more likely that obesity changes our ability to habituate.

There’s another option, of course. It could be that a failure to habituate to food helps cause obesity, that if a food remains novel, we eat more of it. So, it’s not that obesity leads to non-habituation, but the other way around. If so, we’d need to understand how food habituation breaks down and why. Perhaps this recent study of food habituation in obese and normal weight women can help: both obese and non-obese women aged 20-50 years were broken up into two groups. One group received macaroni and cheese once a day for five days straight. The other group received macaroni and cheese one day a week for five weeks. Same amount of mac and cheese, different schedule. The five-days-straight group showed long-term habituation to the mac and cheese. They craved and ate less of it by the end of the trial. The second group ate more mac and cheese and showed very little habituation. Mac and cheese remained a novel food to the second group, while it was standard fare for the first group, even though both groups had access to the same amount of mac and cheese. The only thing that changed was meal frequency. You might say that the second group ate a more varied diet, while the first group ate a more monotonous diet.

Keeping frequency constant but changing the food also seems to affect habituation. Another study found that limiting snacks to a single variety increased the satiety derived from snacking, as opposed to participants who were allowed to snack on a variety of foods. Both groups received the same amount of snacks, but the no-variety group could choose only a single snack to receive for the duration of the study, while the variety group could get a different snack every time.

There’s also epidemiological evidence that food variety is associated with being overweight. One study looked at long term weight loss maintainers, or former obese folks who were able to successfully keep the weight off for years, and found that the most successful maintainers ate a diet very low in food variety when compared to folks who had just recently lost weight.

Does all that suggest eating a wide variety of Primal-approved foods will inevitably lead to obesity?

No. Consider that we are an odd bunch, and study groups do not accurately reflect us. We are, for the most part, eating, moving, and living uniquely. We’re not on this study’s control diet of refined grains and hot dogs or that study’s experimental diet of whole grains and low-fat dairy. They might provide interesting clues into general human metabolism, but that’s about it. We don’t eat crap in a box. Our idea of food variety isn’t having Pringles, Doritos, Bugles, and Kettle Chips in the pantry. When you limit choices to real food, variety doesn’t matter so much. One study found that overall food variety correlated positively with body fatness in urban Hong Kong Chinese adults, but that correlation reversed itself when limited to “meat and grain” variety. Adding “snack variety” to the mix flipped it to a positive correlation. So, eating a wide variety of snack food was associated with increased body fat, while a wide variety of real food (sure, whole grains aren’t ideal, but as studies have repeatedly shown, they’re better than refined, processed snacks and grain-derived snacks) was associated with lower body fat.

Snacks, mac and cheese? These do not a Primal eating plan comprise.

The question remains, then: should a diet be highly variable?

It depends on your definition of variety. Primal variety means eating organ meat, shellfish, muscle meat, and using the bones. It means rotating between kale, chard, and spinach. It means paying attention to colorful vegetation (use that color vision), like blueberries, cherries, Okinawan sweet potatoes, and carrots. It does not mean getting Chinese take out today and deep dish pizza tomorrow.

It needn’t be super exciting and variable. All that stuff up above is to show that there is nothing wrong with liking the food you like, and, as I showed a few weeks ago, you can satisfy your nutritional and hedonistic requirements with just ten foods. There’s nothing wrong with being the salad guy, or the meat-and-sweet-potatoes type. Variety for the sake of variety is mostly useless, nutritionally, and taken to the extreme might even lead to poor choices and weight gain. Just enjoy your food and eat plenty of plants and animals. As long as you make sure what you eat comes from the Earth, not from a lab or a food production facility, whether you enjoy a variety or a monotone meal plan is immaterial.

The key is that you enjoy it.

What about you, dear readers? Is variety important to you, or do you happily maintain a regular and consistent meal plan?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. It’s when I think about all of the variety I’m missing out on that I start eating crap.
    “Wow, cheesecake brownies…it’s been a while since I’ve had one of those! I’ll have to make a special exception.”
    Bad News Bears. Once I start, I can’t stop. Bread, brownies, milk, soda…and then I spend about thirty minutes on the toilet lamenting my idiocy.

    Allie wrote on July 6th, 2011
  2. Interesting. I was just earlier listening to this topic from the audiobook version of Michael Pollan’s book, “In Defense of Food”, which I find incredibly enjoyable and a well-founded and reasoned argument for Primal lifestyle decisions on the food front. Though he doesn’t outright make specific recommendations such as eliminating grains, etc., he presents strong arguments that lend support to the approach.
    Anyway, the part about variety was great because he was talking exactly about this type of variety – changing up which veggies, clean meats, or other whole foods you consume. One suggestion was to join a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) group and by doing so, you’ll get a variety of whatever happens to be at peak ripeness in your local area (almost always from an organically-growing – if not certified – local farmer).
    The other advantage to food variety that he points out as well is that it is also good for the soil! If we demand more variety in our foods (vote with your fork), more farmers would rotate their crops, allowing for more organic farming, better soil, and better nutrient-rich products. (And with more demand and then more supply, we can expect lower prices eventually.)
    I find the best ideas are ones that you arrive at from multiple streams of thought and multiple sources. This is certainly one of them.
    Grok on!

    Stephan wrote on July 6th, 2011
  3. Ever since I did the No S Diet (nosdiet.com), I usually eat the same thing each weekday for breakfast/lunch. Suppers with the family vary, but there are 3 or 4 staple meals during the week.

    Weekends and vacations/holidays are for more variety…and yes, a little bit of cheating/not-so-good-for-you food. There’s more time and enjoyment for such outside the busier days of the week.

    jsp wrote on July 6th, 2011
  4. What about the monotonous eater with berbere under her fingernails (or at least a homemade jar of it in her spice cabinet)? :P

    Sudenveri wrote on July 6th, 2011
  5. Hey Mark,

    Just wanted to let you know that I read this while eating my daily big ass salad that hasn’t changed much in 3+ years, which is about when I started reading your blog.

    Cheers mate!
    -Ryan Denner

    Ryan Denner wrote on July 6th, 2011
  6. Day after day, meat and vegetables, meat and vegetables. I love it. Off topic; I’ve been wondering about a couple of things for years. One, do you think horseback riding is primal exercise? For the rider, I mean. And two, I’ve never read a mention about seed and legume sprouts. Are they in the diet, or are they not?

    Always enjoy reading the Apple, Mark. Your writing improves all the time.

    Kapo

    kapo wrote on July 6th, 2011
    • American Indian rode horses (after the spaniers left them here) and that was during a time when they were primal.
      Before european Korgs came and started agriculture in America.

      It also gives you a special bond with an animal, much like Grok had with his pet wolf. They found a 30,000 year old grave with flowers and special gifts of an extremely large dog in Belgium. This pet dog was burried with its owner in the same grave.
      In India they tame elephants and I’m pretty sure that goes back thousands of years,too.

      “Dog History and Archaeological Data:

      The oldest dog skull discovered to date is from Goyet Cave, Belgium. The Goyet cave collections (the site was excavated in the mid-19th century) were examined recently (Germonpré and colleagues, cited below) and a fossil canid skull was discovered among them. Although there is some confusion as to which level the skull came from, it has been direct-dated by AMS at 31,700 BP.”

      Primal Palate wrote on July 7th, 2011
  7. Hmmm..food contentment. I like that.

    I am content with,oh, say, chicken, and I can raid my spice cabinet and make it Italian, Indian, Mexican, BBQ, Asian, or go nuts and make it plain. The same goes for fat-on beef and lamb (although plain is best) and pork and turkey and bison. Veggies, a green and a red/yellow/orange, are sauteed in coconut oil and dressed in lime and a bit of salt, or steamed and butter-drenched. Done. Leftovers go into soup the next day, or the freezer, or the frig for breakfast or salad. Nutritious? Yes. Monotonous? No. Easy? Yes. There’s a lot to be said for not stressing over a meal.

    Cook, eat, enjoy. If that’s monotony, I’m all for it.

    Nannsi wrote on July 6th, 2011
  8. Lets face it humans are creatures of habbit so it seems natural that we stick to certain food patterns and choices (i.e. eat at similar times each day and the same ingredients in our meals) I see it around the work office everyday!!

    Personally I try to shop seasonally and go for offers at the supermarket so that ensures I get some good variety, rarely eating the same meal for dinner in a week. Lunch however is less varied and I too like the ‘big as salad’ but have been living off lots of beetroot and natural yoghurt lately – strangely a nice combination!

    Oh and blackstrap molasses are now a key ingredient in my diet too!

    Luke M-Davies wrote on July 6th, 2011
    • Try your yoghurt on some freshly sliced tomatoes, and your favourite colour pepper – also a strangely nice combination.

      Granuaile wrote on July 6th, 2011
  9. i go on kicks with primal food. my current kick is turkey pepperoni yum yum.

    there isnt much variety to my primal diet and i like it that way.

    debbie_downer wrote on July 6th, 2011
  10. I was thinking about this exact question recently. I’m a creature of habit but I’ve been conscious of the need (in my opinion) to have more variety.

    I have heard that eating the same foods all the time can lead to allergies and nutritional deficiencies. Also I just enjoy food and eating a variety of foods keeps life interesting.

    Nevertheless I have a few staple foods and my diet doesn’t deviate much from day to day. I am addicted to spinach salad with avocados and balsamic vinegar. I have that as a pre-dinner starter almost every day. I started using pre-packaged arugula and spinach for variety.

    Nate wrote on July 6th, 2011
  11. I have found that eating simply, with many repetitive ingredients, helps change and avoid the daily dynamic that plague most people, which is putting too much focus on food: when, what, where, etc etc. It makes eating a major focus on every day. Like a group of co-workers talking all morning about “where should we go for lunch.”

    Whereas being primal turns eating into a simple fueling process, without thinking much about it. But meanwhile, I get to eat greatly satisfying meals.

    My fridge has a few staples at all times:

    1. A ton of salad fixings, like most of us. (And Olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the pantry).

    2. Veggies to lightly saute or even microwave in a snap: zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, brussel sprouts, etc.

    3. A couple of baggies of cooked meat, such as grilled chicken, pulled slow roasted pork shoulder, for quick addition to salads or omelets.

    4. A big package of thawed sirloin (London Broil) that I lightly sautee in butter and throw on a salad (lunch), eat with some aforementioned veggies (dinner) or throw in with some scrambled eggs (breakfast).

    5. Wild Salmon in the freezer, thawed and sauteed in butter or grilled (with the skin…I LOVE primal!) once or twice a week. Chicken breasts or leg quarters that I grill once or twice a week (again..with that delicious skin…halleluja!)

    6. Eggs and a block of cheddar cheese.

    7. Blueberries and Strawberries. A handful every other day or so with a half cup of plain whole yogurt. (This is literally my only “dessert-like” fix I ever have as a snack…and now I can’t imagine craving cheesecake, ice cream or other things…this is so light, clean and delicious.

    8. A supply of canned tuna, sardines, and almonds in the pantry.

    That’s it. It makes shopping SO easy. And for the first time in my life, eating ‘clean’ leaves me with ZERO cravings for anything, especially carb-laden stuff. That used to happen all the time when I used to eat “clean,” which meant no skin on the chicken, low fat dressings, brown rice, beans, whole eat bread, oatmeal, etc.

    Another last comment…I find I am eating as few as two meals a day, yet never really feeling hungry! Intuitively, I feel it’s better to split these meals into 3 or 4 meals a day, after years of CW telling me that studies show more fat-burning on equal diets when the subjects at the same spread over 6 meals vs. 3. Mark, if you are reading this…any comments on the “grazing” philosophy as it relates to primal? Would taking our primal 3 (for most people) meals a day, and spreading over 6 meals a day, have benefits?

    Peter wrote on July 6th, 2011
  12. I’m a morbidly obese guy who is just a few weeks into a serious lifestyle change.

    This is the first email I’ve gotten since checking out Primal Blueprint and MDA. My wife and I had talked about the feasibility of changing our lifestyles to Primal, and I have got to say…you’ve sold me. I’ve found more helpful information in this one article, about this one topic than I have in page after page of other fitness sites. Every PB thing I’ve read so far has been like that. On payday, I’m ordering the whole package.

    Now, to get on topic…(sorry about going off on a tangent there)…I’m a deeply regimented eater also, but at the other end of the spectrum. I used to eat a lot of the same junk over and over without varying, but it was exactly that…junk. I didn’t get morbidly obese haphazardly! Since taking steps towards changing my diet…that has been a huge challenge for me, getting monotonous about eating for the better while still trying to keep it interesting. For someone where I’m at right now, finding happy monotony with healthy food looks pretty bleak. I’m on the path, it’s just something of a struggle. I definitely think going more primal will help!

    Mike wrote on July 6th, 2011
    • Mike, you and your wife can do this. Study the website, the various links, and the posts to these threads. Take you focus off of food and try to replace it on exercise and lifestyle, with food being your fuel. If you’ve been living on junk, you might find it a bit more challenging to withdraw from all the carb-laden crap…but the good news is, unlike most “clean” nutrition plans, with Primal you can eat really tasty meals that include things most convential “diets” forbid. Tasty fats, meats. oils (healthy, live Olive oil).

      You had monotony before, with the same bad food over and over again. Now, be monotonous with good foods. Don’t feel that the outlook is bleak before you’ve even begun. Go the the “Success Stories” in the forum section and read the stories and look at the pics. This will hopefully inspire you.

      Good luck!

      Peter wrote on July 6th, 2011
      • Excuse the atrocious typos, I was writing really fast :-)

        Peter wrote on July 6th, 2011
      • Thanks bro…definitely appreciate the encouragement! I’ve been throwing myself into exercise the last couple of weeks or so. I actually keep a 20 lb. dumbbell on my desk and whenever a smoker goes out for a break, I’ll knock out a quick 10-minute, 5 exercise upper body routine. Thats in addition to moderate spinning for 30 minutes every morning and occasionally walking a mile or two.

        My habits are changing, but it’s coming along slowly. Reading all the success stories so far have definitely helped move me along!

        Mike wrote on July 6th, 2011
        • You are doing great! There is no question that the “moderate cardio” or as Mark calls it, ‘move at a slow place, frequently’ WORKS…in addition to following the nutrition guidelines (especially cutting out ALL the refined crap and any grains), and lifting some weights as little as once a week (intensely) to start increasing some muscle mass. Obviously, take your time if you are very obese, and don’t stress yourself…but this WILL work, and as the pounds begin to drop away, you and your wife will be STOKED. Keep up that walking especially, since you are spinning in the am, try to throw a thirty minute walk in every night. That will bring you up to 7 hours a week of moderate cardio which will definitely pay off big time.

          Peter wrote on July 6th, 2011
        • take some photos, I want to see your success story soon.

          Dasbutch wrote on July 7th, 2011
    • For Das and anyone else interested in following along, I am tracking my food, exercise and weight loss daily at myfitnesspal. My user name is Eats_With_A_Fist. I haven’t posted any before/during after photos yet…I’m actually taking my first one before I weigh in tomorrow. I’m going to wait until I’ve lost about 20 lbs. (or a noticeable number of inches, whichever comes first) before I post the first ones.

      My goal loss is 175 lbs. I have decided on a career change as well. I want to go back to school and become a Dietitian and then after I lose enough, to become a personal trainer as well. I’m gonna make a “shrinking man” video with the photos when I hit my target. Thanks for the positive thoughts and the support!

      Mike wrote on July 7th, 2011
    • Don’t keep it monotonous. Some of us are taking this article the wrong way. We ARE an odd bunch like M. Sisson says and tests like the macaroni and cheese test would flat out fail on us if it was bacon and eggs every day. These meals were only given once a day remember, not all day long at each meal.

      Eating the same thing ALL day for DAYS will give you malnutrition, which I assume you’re suffering from anyways if you’ve obese and have been eating the SAD diet your entire life.
      Monotony will end up in huge food cravings because you will lack certain nutrients. Be creative.
      When I first started out I also thought this was a monotone way of eating, I had pretty much the same thing every day and after 3 weeks the food cravings won. I had to get creative because nobody taught me anything about food.

      Beef, Pork, Chicken, Duck, Goose, Rabbit, Turkey, Fish, Oysters, Clams, Eggs of diff. birds, ALL organ meats of any animal like glands, eyeballs, livers, kidneys, heart, tongue, bone broth, bone marrow, cook with palm-coconut oil, lard, kidney fat, butter, ALL vegetables, ALL fruits, Stews, Fruit Salad with coconut cream, Shrooms, pick your own lettuce and herbs when you go hiking, dandylions, soft thistles, nettles for tea, etc.
      Try and consume nuts by season, in nature hazelnuts would be end of summer, chestnuts (boiled or roasted) at end of the year. Try and find a raw milk or cheese supplier, melt raw cheese over hamburger patties with green onions and mustard and use lettuce leaves for buns.

      Good Luck and glad to have you with us :-)

      Primal Palate wrote on July 7th, 2011
  13. Just yesterday I was talking to someone about this diet, and he was going over the list of things I don’t eat, which is long. After several minutes of this, I felt compelled to jump in. This is NOT a restrictive diet, or it sure doesn’t feel like it to me! Think of the amazing variety of vegetables, spices, meats out there! The BAS is not one dish–it is an infinite number of dishes. I never feel restricted. But yes, I don’t eat a long list of garbage.

    Louise D wrote on July 6th, 2011
  14. I vary my dinners and not so much my lunches, with breakfast somewhere in between. Dinner seems to be a two-week rotation of various favorites for 10 of the 14 nights (with maybe one repetition in that), 1 favorite that gets made less frequently, 1 left-over or quick-and-easy meal and 2 new meals. Lunch is almost always either leftovers or a BAS with a rare variation on a weekend or holiday. Breakfast is usually either leftovers or scrambled eggs and bacon/ham, but most weekends I’ll do something different, anything from an omelet to bruschetta-without-the-baguette to banana-almond pancakes.

    I guess my two biggest repetitions are that I’ll often have the same thing for a dinner-breakfast-lunch combo due to leftovers, or I’ll have eggs for breakfast and salads for lunch when I don’t have leftovers. However, because dinner is almost always different, leftovers change on a daily basis, and my eggs and salads are normally interspersed with leftovers, so I don’t get bored.

    Samantha wrote on July 6th, 2011
  15. My theory is that eating local, fresh foods (harvested yourself or as close to it as possible) create more satisfaction (because of a host of reasons: freshness, taste, etc.) and thus result in food contentment, even if the options are limited at any given time. Going to the grocery store that offers a plethora of choices whereby one can achieve food variety might not result in food contentment because of the lack (in general) of freshness, taste, etc. We humans will want more and more variety of the grocery store foods because we are looking for the satisfaction of fresh, local taste.

    Incidentally I grew up on a self-sufficient farm where we were fairly limited to the items in season (big garden, fruit trees, etc.) except for canned and frozen goods, and I didn’t know a loss of satisfaction in the foods I ate until I went to college and started eating only grocery store goods. Suddenly it took more food to feel satisfied.

    Great post!

    Dawn wrote on July 6th, 2011
  16. This is reassuring. I thought there was something wrong with me because I was pretty happy having hamburger meat and greens and onions every night for supper. And eggs for breakfast every morning. And maybe hamburger meat again for lunch. It doesn’t seem boring to me to eat local food in season, even if that means I have to eat peaches every single day!!

    shannon wrote on July 6th, 2011
  17. Thank you Mark! Every time something is on my mind, you have a relevant post….
    after tracking on Fitday for a while, I noticed I too eat the same basic things. But I do not buy fruits from Chile in January….so that means peaches only in the summer…just like you mentioned, seasonal availability is enough variety for me. And my kids know, if the fruit doesnt grow in the USA, we dont buy it!

    Hopeless Dreamer wrote on July 6th, 2011
  18. Mark,

    I tend to eat pretty routine meals because I am comfortable preparing certain meals and I don’t have a lot of free time to experiment in the kitchen. I do think variety is important though and ideally, I would love to eat a different Primal meal that taste great every day. Oh well, maybe when I retire…

    Alykhan

    Alykhan wrote on July 6th, 2011
  19. yep, BAS daily. thanks to summer there is a change up. Gee how i love summer.

    Dasbutch wrote on July 6th, 2011
  20. My meals are, animal (usually cow) vegetable (rocket, spinach and watercress) eggs, coconut oil, ACV and that’s pretty much it every meal. Aspire are creatures of habit.

    Sarah wrote on July 6th, 2011
  21. My menu has definitely devolved: I’ve gone from a wide variety of modern foods to steaks cooked in tallow and/or topped with butter, usually with sauteed mushrooms. Eggs fried in tallow or ghee; small-sized berry smoothies, usually with a bit of coconut oil or MCT oil. (All animal fats are from grass-fed beasties.) Boiled down to the essentials: meat, eggs, and berries. (I often add raw egg yolks and/or whey proteins to the smoothies.)

    I’ve tried Big Assed Salads, smoothies with a variety of vegetation, etc., but leaves and twigs just give me intestinal problems. I do occasionally eat an avocado with my almost raw (very over-easy) eggs but that’s about it.

    I have had several people tell me that is an unhealthy way to eat but it works for me. I have plenty of energy, I sleep very well and I exercise well. In fact, in just the past ten days, I lost six pounds of body fat. (I know it’s fat lost, as opposed to water loss, because I finally got below that point where my clothes are now too damned loose and I have to spend some hard-earned money to re-clothe myself. I’m not whining, mind you, but it is still a pain in the ass.)

    I figure ol’ Grok, if he lived in the mid-continent, far away from the coast, probably had a fairly monotonous menu: buffalo parts and pieces for breakfast, buffalo pieces and parts for lunch, and buffalo steaks for supper. That’s a simplification I know, but you get my drift.

    Phocion Timon wrote on July 6th, 2011
  22. I found PB when I found out I was allergic to a list of foods a half a mile long(some I am glad of lie wheat and soy and some not so much like spinach, most nuts, and peaches) so yes my list of foods I eat is pretty short but what I do with them is longer. I love to cook and try new recipes and since I have lost 81 pounds since going primal and I am under 300 pounds for the first time since the 4th grade, I guess it’s working for me so if it’s not broke don’t fix it as they say. I eat omelets for breakfast or protein shakes depends on my mood that day and then salads or proteins for lunch and then dinner is veggies and meat (mostly chicken I am allergic to beef) sometimes I have snacks sometimes I don’t depends on the day.

    AmyNVegas wrote on July 6th, 2011
  23. I think there is some misunderstanding here about what variety of foods means. For instance you take the potatoe and say I eat potatoes as part of my diet, most people are referring to the standard strain of brown tomatoes we are used to, most people do not know that there used to be as little as 40 years ago over 20 different types of potatoes. Most strains of vegetables and fruits, have been commercially phased out, because 1-3 strains were the easiest to maintain and mass produce and the others fell to the side. So the concept of being content with the food choices you make on a daily basis, discounts the fact that those choices have been unnecessarily limited. If you like to always eat potatoes, that is great, but there was a time that choosing a potatoes had so much variety in and of itself!

    GymyGym wrote on July 6th, 2011
  24. One thing that I think is hilarious is how a lot of people think they are eating a varied diet, when it is really just a myriad permutations of corn, wheat, and soybeans. Eating salad and meat every single day, though superficially monotonous, is inherently a far more diverse diet that the SAD.

    Max wrote on July 6th, 2011
  25. I’m actually fine with just meat, eggs and cottage cheese for now and have been for about 3 weeks now. I’m glad I haven’t gotten bored with it because I’ve lost 10 pounds and 2 inches off my waist! ;)

    Guy wrote on July 6th, 2011
  26. ahhh another topic of great interest to me. Somewhere on the Kurt Harris “archevore” blog he makes a comment (I can’t find it now and I hope I’m not taking it too far out of context) about how simple his diet is. I was viewing my very limited diet as boring. (I eat a version of primal called “fodmap”, which controls IBS for me). There are so many foods I cannot eat. But when I read Harris, I really started to view it differently. It’s a simple diet, not boring. Simple and good. Like pulling on jeans and a t-shirt every morning. And sometimes one can get dressed up when the effort is worthwhile.

    DThalman wrote on July 6th, 2011
  27. I dont eat much variety at all. Good meat, fish, and eggs, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, garlic, onion and some berries and nuts.

    I think we humans can survive on a lot less variety than we think.

    Richard wrote on July 6th, 2011
  28. Hi Mark,
    An important ad on, good food is never boring when you’re hungry, my colleagues at work ask me if I am not bored with chicken? bet no one would be bored with chicken in Belsen

    Stretch wrote on July 6th, 2011
  29. Nice post man, I’m diggin the “Big Ass Salad” idea, LOL. Good stuff tho, really like your site, you have tons of great information here. Keep up the awesome work!

    Joey Cardillo wrote on July 6th, 2011
  30. I think a really interesting little thought experiment would be to log the number of distinct subspecies Primal eaters eat over a given time compared to non-primal eaters. I strongly suspect that whilst we eat stuff which looks the same a lot of the time, we’re actually eating a much broader variety of food sources than non-primal eaters who are I’d suspect getting their many different types of food from the same few basic ingredients. Personally speaking I try to mix it up as much as possible within the basic same positions – the greens on my evening meal for example could be shop bought spinach, cabbage, asparagus etc or foraged wild leaves (NB – foraging is cool and one of the ultimate primal mild effort activities IMO) or home grown Orac or Horseradish greens. Variety is definitely the spice of life but there’s more than one way to define variety.

    tai haku wrote on July 7th, 2011
  31. Hey there,

    I have my eggs each morning, sveggies and meat at lunch and definately meat for dinner. Not much of a variety, but it’s perfectly working for me.

    Greets from Bulgaria!

    A.

    Assen wrote on July 7th, 2011
  32. i eat ‘seasonally monotonously’. in summer lots of fish, chicken, salads and stone fruits. in winter lots of red meat, root vegies, eggs. don’t like salad in winter and don’t like soup in summer :) natural variety…

    Caralyn wrote on July 7th, 2011
  33. Lets face it, variety like we are accustomed to has only been available for 50-100 years, before that we were restricted to everything that we could source locally. Going through the seasons only certain things were available so it wouldn’t do for us to be constantly in search of strawberries in the depths of winter (I’m from Scotland), that would be caloric expenditure that we couldn’t afford.

    Steve wrote on July 7th, 2011
  34. I used to think variety was important, but as I have became more interested in fitness meals have lost their appeal to me. I find myself only concerned about meeting my protein and carb intakes as well as watching my micronutrients.

    Bigshanks wrote on July 7th, 2011
  35. I have a BAS daily and no two salads have ever been the same. I vary the type of veggies, nuts, lettuce, dressing. I don’t see how anyone can hate salads. The challenge I have is always making two things: one for me and my husband, and one for my three small children. I WISH, but can’t expect, them to eat egg white omelettes, salads, and meat with more vegetables every day. I do let them have fun with a little mac and cheese every now and then. Someday…

    Sarah wrote on July 7th, 2011
  36. I eat the same foods almost every day. Even when I go out to eat, I still order the same thing I always order, not because I don’t want to try something new, but because I enjoy my usual meal :).
    Mark I love all the information you provide here, since I’ve been reading your blog, I’ve learned so much more than from my fitness study guide.

    Tatianna wrote on July 7th, 2011
  37. Modern monotonous eating is really all about convenience. As Tim Ferriss says in his 4 Hour Body book, “there are 47 000 products in the average supermarket, but only a handful of them won’t make you fat”. So I think that once you settle on a few which you seem comfortable with and don’t produce any adverse results you get into the habit of eating the same foods, over and over again. After all it’s one less thing to think about.

    However, food variety is essential as the nutrients necessary to meet nutritional requirements are not all found in a single food item (with the exception of human breast milk in the first months of life) but come from a diet composed of a number of foods. Nutrition scientists have identified about 12 000 compounds (called phytochemicals) that play a role in preventing disease. As many of these compounds work together, it makes sense to eat a wide variety of foods. As such, diverse diets have been shown to protect against chronic diseases such as cancer, as well as being associated with prolonged longevity and improved health.

    If you consider the food choices of our ancestors, local biodiversity coupled with seasonal variations would have given rise to the availability of a huge range of plants, fruits, seeds, fungi, nuts, etc and their diets would have been full of changes throughout the year. Factor in fish and the animals they’ll have hunted down and eaten too and you’ve got lots of different dietary components.

    But beware! I’ve noticed that you tend to eat more food during a meal which consists of a variety of foods presented in a succession of courses than during a meal with only a single type of food, even if it is your favourite!

    FitChutney wrote on July 7th, 2011
  38. Im like Mark…I know what I eat..I have a simple menu..I dont need to hide/or fancy it up ..And Im never bored because I think primal..and that means simple/fresh/and edible…It just goes with my territory>>>>>>

    Daveman wrote on July 7th, 2011
  39. Variety is definitely important to me because I get bored easily. I try to eat a food cuisine from a different culture every day at lunch partly because I work near a city and there are more choices. One day I would salad, another day eat Indian food, then Chinese and Mexican and so on.

    Breakfast is more difficult because I hardly have time to eat. But I try to switch different fruits such as grapes, pineapples, berries, etc for breakfast.

    satish wrote on July 7th, 2011
  40. I am also a pretty simple eater; I buy the same veggies, fruit and meat every week at the grocery store. I can eat left overs for two days in a row or more sometimes. I eat the same thing for breakfast pretty much every day.

    My husband is also a simple eater; while he isn’t primal, he does eat the same things every day. I agree that it is so much easier to cook what I know how to cook and what I know I will like; I save the culinary adventures for when I have the time and energy!

    Mary wrote on July 7th, 2011

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple