“Variety is Key”!
“Eat the rainbow”!
“I bet you aren’t getting this nutrient, be sure to take this supplement to ensure you are achieving it”!
Let’s break each of these down and get this dietitians perspective
“Variety is Key”! –> It is important, but it is not the most important key. Our bodies like variety for a million reasons, but I also understand that some individuals are not at a place that variety in their diets feels comfortable (Keep reading…). So why do we say variety is key? Because it allows for us to obtain different sources of nutrients and allows for us to not get bored within our own ways of eating. But variety can be hard if you have an eating disorder or you don’t have an eating disorder, as humans we like familiarity. So as a dietitian, I like to challenge my clients with trying to add one new food each week, if we try this we will get around 52 new foods a year!
“Eat the rainbow”! –> I personally am not a fan of this. I feel this really comes from a place of diet culture. It can make individuals feel guilt for not eating the rainbow. It also pushes the narrative of needing to only eat fruits and veggies, when we know that is not helpful for variety either. In working with those with eating disorders, many will tell me they have had this experience where they were told they to eat this way and this really started to limited their food choices and also had them fear foods which were not associated with the rainbow. It is good to eat all the different colors, but I would change this to “eat the variety!”
“I bet you aren’t getting this nutrient, be sure to take this supplement to ensure you are achieving it”! –> This is a very common tactic used by supplement companies. They induce some sort of panic for you to think about those times when you don’t eat x, y, z and quickly try and persuade you to have their supplement to help fill those gaps. However our bodies do not view it this way (Keep reading to see what I mean!).
These is very common rhetorics in diet culture and it makes us believe that we must do all the things in order to “be our healthiest.” In away it makes us once again micromanagement our diets.
However, our bodies do not do an inventory of nutrients at the end of every day and check for 100% vitamin C and a did not complete for only 90% of our vitamin D. Our bodies look at these nutrients over time. Are we consistently consuming vitamin A… yes… so overall, we have a better chance at stronger eyes.
As a society however we tend to gravity towards the same types of food which is normal! But I always like to challenge my clients on trying a new food or adding in a food they typically would not choose. For example, maybe you also use whole grain toast at breakfast… try mixing it up with Rye bread or sourdough. Maybe you choose carrots to have with your lunch everyday, next time try a new veggie like sliced peppers or snap peas.
These simple swaps can make a really big difference in our diets and can add the variety our bodies are looking for.
I find variety is also important when we are finding we are in food rut. Food ruts are the worst but I find with changing little items up like in the examples above you have less food ruts and you are able to keep trying new foods to add variety to your diet.
Variety can be really hard however for those in recovery with an eating disorder or disordered eating. Variety means straying from those safe foods and working on challenge foods. When we are struggling with an eating disorder, variety means that we need to trust that our bodies know what to do with this new food, which can be VERY difficult.
This is what makes working with a dietitian so important, they or I, am able to help you slowly start to incorporate more variety in your diet.