06/03/2021

The dark side of meal variety. Choose wisely.

Reading time: 1 minute
Summary:
Many of my clients feel that it’s important to create a large variety of meals throughout the week. However, the increased cognitive load often counters most of the positive effects. Choose wisely.

πŸ₯— If you browse through your Instagram feed you soon get the idea that every meal you’ve ever made is boring and not unhealthy. You could call this a positive stimulation to add more variety to your diet.

πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™‚β€ Based on my personal and professional experience, however, I believe there is also a ‘dark side’ to this that is often overlooked.

πŸ“ When I ask my clients to compose what they believe is a healthy diet for 1 week, I often see 7 different types of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

πŸ’° Clearly, this feels very natural to many people and you’re surely gonna score a lot of likes if you manage to put only half of this on Instagram #doingitforthegram. Further inquiry often reveals that it does come at a cost though.

🧠 Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are known to preserve their brainpower by reducing their ‘cognitive load’ or ‘decision fatigue’. Simply put: they minimize the amount of ‘stupid’ decisions they need to make to preserve brain power for other things.

πŸ‘• The most visible result: billionaires wearing the same clothes every day. I believe the same applies to diets.

πŸ“ˆ The need for variety by cooking up different recipes every day is often overestimated and comes at the cost of being able to persist in the long run.

πŸ₯‘ Moreover, even though variety can add vitamins and minerals to your diet that you otherwise wouldn’t eat that often, it can also increase the chance of eating sub-optimally, as you cannot eat that perfectly nutritious and macro-balanced meal every day.

πŸ‘‰ Self-coaching tip:
Ask yourself: ‘Could your believed need to come up with new recipes cost you the mental energy that you need to persist a healthy lifestyle in the long run?

Roderick de Leeuw
MSc, BSc, ACC, CHPC
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