Variety is the Spice We All Need


When I was in grad school I brought my lunch to work and school every day.  It didn’t vary much:  yogurt, baby carrots, crackers or pretzels, and usually a piece of fruit.  Sometimes a sandwich would sneak in, but always with baby carrots.  I loved the crunch and the fact that they were low in calories.

One day I picked up a baby carrot and literally could not take a bite.  I had eaten carrots every day for months and something took over that just simply made me feel ill at the thought of biting into another carrot.  

To this day I do not eat many baby carrots.  I buy them and they sit in my crisper drawer and get all dried out.  I may eat one here and there on a vegetable tray at a party but I can’t bring myself to eat them regularly.  Why?  I simply OD’d on carrots!  I had eaten them so often that I could not do it anymore.  The same thing almost happened with oatmeal.  Luckily I saw the burnout coming and stopped myself before it overtook me.

We need variety in our diets for many reasons.  Preventing burnout is one reason, but so is nutrition.  Different foods = different nutrients.  I was getting a lot of beta-carotene from my baby carrots, but if I would have switched it up with broccoli, celery, red bell peppers, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas I would have gotten a whole spectrum of different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from the variety of vegetables I was eating.  And having something different each day would have given me something to look forward to.

Some people love to follow a routine with their eating.  Breakfast tends to be the most ritualistic meal I see people eating.  They get into a routine and stick to it.  Whole grain cereal, milk, and fruit.  If you love your cereal, stick with it but maybe try different varieties of cereal.  Some may be higher in fiber than others and it will keep your palate interested in coming back for breakfast day after day.

Tara Collingwood
Tara is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness, and health promotion and is quoted in a variety of media including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

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