Here’s Why You Need To Vary Your Diet
We live in a world where you can taste thousands of ingredients, spices, and flavors over a lifetime. So why would you restrict yourself to eating the same thing constantly? Besides making for more exciting meals, changing up your diet will make you a healthier person, armed with a palate that can appreciate the flavor nuances in truly delicious and diverse dishes. We talked to two experts from Chobani, Jake Briere, Corporate Chef, and Dr. Robert C. Post, Senior Director of the Chobani Nutrition Center, to break down the benefits of switching things up. Here’s what they had to say:
Eating what you have at home will make work week meals so much betterMaking meals at home can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially to people who prefer to "cook dinner" by ordering up a meal with a few swipes on your phone. That won’t be the case, Post says, if you’re regularly mixing up the best choices from the five food groups with a good dose of flavors and nutritious ingredients into the meals you're preparing. “Research shows that variety of flavorful food group choices for our meals and snacks makes people look forward to mealtimes,” he says. Taking the time to eat at home, particularly in a social setting, could even make you a more pleasant person. According to researchers with the University of Toronto, people who lived near plenty of fast food options had trouble “savoring” experiences -- like looking at a waterfall, or literally stopping to smell the roses.
Skipping the takeout for a meal you prepared at home is likely to make you physically healthier, too. According to a study conducted by John Hopkins University, participants who cooked at home most of the week consumed fewer calories than those who rarely cooked. They also rarely used frozen foods, or ate fast food, even though they weren’t actively trying to lose weight.
Diseases won’t stand a chance against youWhen you’re hungry, it doesn’t just mean your stomach is empty. It also means your body is craving certain vitamins and nutrients you need from certain foods. When we’re starving, though, most of us make the mistake of eating salty, sugary, fatty things because a) they taste good and b) they are the easiest thing to grab.
Over-consuming sodium, sugar, and saturated fats puts you at risk for truly nasty stuff like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. However, if you incorporate items from each of the five food groups (vegetables, fruits, dairy, whole grains, and protein foods) into every one of your meals, you probably won’t grab that 1,500-calorie double cheeseburger for lunch. (And no, the lettuce and tomato on that burger don't count as a salad.)
You: 1, Bathroom scale: 0Because America has so many food options, it may seem as though we eat a varied diet, but in reality, most of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Post says you need to incorporate some fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy (like yogurt) into your meals in order to maintain the right weight. “Mixing it up and selecting nutrient-dense choices from the recommended five food groups at each meal, including dairy foods like Greek yogurt, in the right amounts, you’re likely to maintain a healthy weight,” he says. When you vary your food options among the five food groups and balance them with exercise, you'll not only be healthier -- but your sense of taste will also get used to regular workouts.
Taste the (vegetable) rainbowProbably the most important reason to eat a varied diet is that it’s the only way to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs from foods. “No food provides every nutrient your body needs, so a variety to get the best mix of nutrients is important,” Post says. The easiest way to make sure you’re getting all the proper nutrients you need is to “eat the rainbow” -- meaning that your plate should literally have a variety of colors on it, especially when it comes to your vegetables. Yellow vegetables and fruits (think oranges and squash) are full of vitamin C, while greens like spinach and kale together have a ton of folate, calcium, iron, and vitamin K. Mix up these items with purple, red, and blue produce (which totally exists), add some dairy and protein, and you’ll have a well-rounded meal with all the nutrients you need. Don’t forget to ‘Gram it before you take a bite, though.
You'll have the palate of a foodieIf it's hard for you to enjoy a stinky blue cheese or a crisp IPA, that might be because your palate isn't accustomed to the intense flavors in those foods, says the Chobani culinary team. If you start to introduce those flavors into your meals, though, your palate can actually be trained to enjoy them.
"Everyone grows up eating different foods: some more adventurous, varied diets to more simplistic flavors," Briere says. "By exposing your palate to new and different flavors, you will be more likely to enjoy bolder tastes. As people train their palate by continuing to taste these stronger flavors, they become more likely to like that flavor."