Four reasons I eat the same thing every single day
I eat the same thing for lunch and breakfast. Every. Single. Day.
Some people think it’s boring. Others think I must not care about food. They’re all wrong.
I actually love food, and I love cooking great food at home. Fortunately both my wife and I are decent home cooks and we enjoy putting together something delicious to eat in the evenings.
Dinner is time for eating a varied range of foods and different types of cuisines. It’s part of the unwinding routine at the end of the day.
Lunch and dinner are different. Here are four reasons I eat the same thing every day, without fail.
1. I don’t want to think about it
There’s a fairly well known concept called decision fatigue. It means that you’re only capable of making a finite number of “good” decisions in any given period of time (let’s say a 24 hour period). After you’ve made your quota of good decisions, your decision making capabilities start to dwindle and you start to make sub-optimal choices. This makes intuitive sense, as decision making requires a fair amount of cognitive load (particularly if the decisions are important).
So what to do? Well, you could follow the lead of Steve Jobs, Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg — they all wear the same outfit every day, to avoid having to expend finite decision making resources on picking their wardrobe.
Or you could eat the same things every day.
Time spent thinking about what to have for breakfast and lunch is NOT time well spent. There are more important things to spend your precious time on, and if you can make better decisions in other parts of your life into the bargain, it’s a no brainer.
2. I might make bad choices
By automating my food selections in the morning and the middle of the day, the possibility for making bad food choices is completely removed.
I’m not weighing up all the various breakfast options available, and therefore there’s no chance that I choose the toast/bagels/[insert own nutritionally deficient carbohydrate here].
Going on auto-pilot in the morning is relatively easy. You’re (hopefully) well rested, mentally recharged, and probably rushing to get on with your day. Having a well established breakfast routine makes sense, and many people do it already without necessarily thinking too deeply about it. (Whether or not their default breakfast is particularly nutritious is a topic for another post).
Lunch is different. By the middle of the day, you could have had a pretty taxing morning. Maybe you’ve had to expend some significant cognitive energy on a problem at work. Maybe you’ve received some bad news and you’re now in the mood for a “treat”. Without a set-in-stone lunchtime routine, bad choices become much more likely.
3. I know what I’m supposed to be eating
I’ve put a lot of time and energy into working out what foods I need to be eating to feel and perform my best. I’ve decided that I want to eat these foods every day: blueberries, avocados, leafy greens, nuts, olive oil, fish.
By designing meals that use all these ingredients, and eating them every day, I know that come evening time I’ve ticked every box on my “must eat” food list.
That gives me a lot of leeway to be more creative at dinner time. Not that I go totally mad and order in an 18 inch pizza. I still eat “healthy” stuff. But I know that I’ve had two very nutrient-dense meals already that day, and that gives me more flexibility to eat what I want for dinner.
4. Habits spread
I don’t believe in having every day scheduled down to the last second. Sometimes creativity takes hold, and you need the flexibility to let it do its thing in that moment. But I’ve found that having a few routines to anchor the day is very useful. It also breeds consistency in other parts of your life.
Establishing a new habit is hard. But each subsequent new habit is easier for having experienced success with a previous change. Realising that I could create a bulletproof habit around breakfast and lunch has enabled me to get much more consistent with other important areas of my life, like exercising and going to bed on time.
Habits can seem dull and restrictive. But if they’re important to you — by which I mean that they align with your values — then there is great satisfaction to be gained from establishing new, meaningful habits.
Eating the same thing every day has forced me to get mindful about what I’m actually eating. It’s no longer a reaction to the specific situation I’m in, or my emotions at the time. I’ve taken the decision once (based on my objectives and research) and from now on I’m just executing on that decision.
And it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.