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Is It Bad to Eat the Same Thing Every Day — Even If It’s Healthy?

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, how about 17 pounds of lettuce?

When my diet was on point, it was a thing of beauty. I consumed small meals every few hours, in the same proportions, and the food choices and selections were essentially the same each and every day. Eggs, cheese, low-fat yogurt, spinach, oatmeal, chicken breast, salmon and mixed vegetables were the bedrock of my diet, with no major sugar sources ingested or imbibed at any point. 

My nutrition plan was more reliable than Singapore’s mass transit system, and there was security and comfort in knowing that I’d receive incremental doses of tasty, nutritious goodness throughout the day. In my mind, there was absolutely no reason why I should ever have needed to deviate from that plan.

Of course, it was right at this point — at the very instant when I felt I had everything figured out — that I got married, and I learned that being happily married meant taking the feelings and desires of another person into account. This process obliged me to adjust my culinary selections to appease my wife, and that included adding occasional Thai takeout to the dinnertime agenda, accepting weekly deliveries from Domino’s Pizza and clearing adequate stomach space for a massive stack of early afternoon chocolate protein pancakes every Sunday. 

Hats off — you’re clearly a man of incredible discipline. But isn’t it bad to eat the same thing every day, even if it’s healthy? That’s what I’ve heard at least.

While we owe a lot to modern medicine, and particularly to modern discoveries and clarifications with respect to nutrition, we tend to be historically shortsighted with respect to human resilience in the area of food. We often act as if the world didn’t exist before the USDA put together its first list of food group recommendations (please don’t forget that “butter” was its own food group in 1941), and that entire civilizations couldn’t subsist for centuries on diets that consisted almost exclusively of butter, milk, grains and a crop like potatoes.

Not that these overreliances couldn’t cause massive problems of their own, or that nutrient shortfalls were inconsequential. I’m merely suggesting that human durability is sufficient to handle salmon and potatoes for dinner every night. 

Within an otherwise healthy diet, the likelihood that your muscles are going to be catabolized if you only ate chicken and no other meats, spinach and no other vegetables or oatmeal and not other grain products, is questionable. That said, if you’re really that paranoid about macronutrient shortfalls in your diet, you should take a multivitamin or other supplements like omega 3 capsules.

But I’ve also heard that multivitamins are a waste of money because your body doesn’t absorb any of the nutrients from them.

Let’s not forget that the reason we have multivitamins in the first place is because organ meats were once the most reliable way to get many of the nutrients that are deemed essential for human diets, and also critical for the feeds distributed to farm animals.

As far as the notion that vitamins don’t help anything goes, most of the criticism of them is about their inability to prevent chronic diseases, heart attacks, cancer or other truly life-threatening physical maladies. This is obviously true. If I’m a smoker who puffs away a pack a day, I shouldn’t expect a multivitamin to right the ship with respect to my lung-cancer risk.

In terms of the absorption of vitamins into the body, different vitamins have different absorption rates; there is no such thing as a multivitamin having an overall absorption rate since each vitamin within that multivitamin is absorbed differently into the body. For example, your body might absorb just over 50 percent of the vitamin B12 that it ingests from a single source. So if someone were to say that your body is inefficiently absorbing its multivitamins, it’s not like your body is absorbing 100 percent of its micronutrients from other sources in the first place.

But isn’t it better if I get my vitamins from food?

Are you even getting the vitamins from your food that you think you are? Many vitamins are so sensitive to heat that their quantity is often cut in half before they even make it into your body. To say nothing of the fact that vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, and require the conveyance of a fat-containing food source in order to be escorted into your body’s bloodstream. Otherwise, they’re simply getting washed away in your urine.

I get it, I get it, but isn’t eating the same thing every day boring?

Often the first objection lobbed at those who subscribe to a system of dietary austerity is the barb that eating the same foods all of the time is boring. I’d respond to this question with a straightforward question of my own: Boring to whom? If the person consuming the comestibles day after day is content with their culinary decisions, why would it matter if someone who’s not eating that food is bored with it? 

In other words, if you’re not bored with your diet, don’t allow the capriciousness of others to dissuade you from enjoying a diet that works for you. All it means is that you don’t share the same tastes.