On one hand, consistency can help us to balance the way we incorporate food into our day-to-day lives. On the other hand, variation in our diets can harvest great benefits as well.
Consistency means something different to different people. It may mean generally eating three square meals a day, and smaller snacks in between; it may mean six small meals. It may mean always drinking a cup of coffee with breakfast, or a glass of water before. It could mean having a post-dinner snack because you always get hungry after dinner. Basically it comes down to what you’ve found has benefited you. There is always a new “best plan” for eating, but I say find what works for you. You know your body more than anyone else and you can determine what makes you feel the best. It’s not about what health experts are saying is best for you; it’s about how your diet actually makes you feel.
Consistency doesn’t mean you should never change the foods that you are eating, but having a loose routine for when you tend to eat each day and having certain parts of your eating that remain the fairly constant. This can be a great way to manage your eating habits. This is not to say that it needs to be the exact same everyday or that there is only one way to do it. It can change and you may go through phases, but developing some sort of uniformity can help to make you feel balanced and reduce emotional eating and eating at odd hours.
I find that the first disruption that results from a lack of sleep is my eating schedule gets out of whack. Knowing when my body is used to eating is helpful for me to try to maintain normalcy. However, despite all of this, listening to the signals that your body is sending to indicate that you are hungry or full is most important of all, even if that means deviating from how you normally would eat. There are a number of factors that play into how hungry you feel and when, so don’t fight this feeling. Your body knows what’s best; we just need to listen closely to what it is saying.
Variety is also a really useful tool when maintaining a healthful diet. When you eat the same foods over and over again, it becomes redundant. Often times people get sick of eating the same “health foods,” so they resort to eating foods that don’t make them feel good. Rather than reaching towards these foods, try thinking first about something different and something that will make you feel good. This may mean adding completely new foods to your diet, or just switching the way you make them. This could mean trying roasted vegetables instead of raw. Or even ordering a side you’ve never heard of at a restaurant. Seaweed salad is something I’ve recently tried and loved. Variety could mean a simple substitution—cashews for almonds for instance. Or try mixing different foods together—rice and beans with a variety of veggies, a trail mix with all your favorite ingredients. At the grocery store I tend to get the same base products, the ones I know and love. But I also like to add a few items that are new and exciting.
A lot of times when we eat poorly, it comes from laziness and convenience. So having a repertoire of different ideas in the back of your mind is a way to avoid falling into this trap. There are plenty of ways to keep your diet from boring you and getting you off track!
If you think about it, our lives are made up of consistent variation, one after another. We have certain parts of our lives that are generally regular. There are certain people that will always remain in our lives for example. But many changes are constantly occurring too. New people are added to our lives; other people fade out. We grow older and transition into new stages of life. Consistency keeps us centered, but variety keeps us interested.
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