We all know the dreaded diet plateau: We see the same number on the scale day after day despite our best efforts. Could eating the same meal day after day jump start weight loss efforts? New research suggests meal monotony might be a way to bore yourself a little thinner.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition monitored the calorie intake of 32 overweight women who ate the same lunch and dinner five days running. Even though the meal in question was not exactly diet fare — macaroni and cheese — those on the dullness diet ended up consuming 27% fewer calories. If tempted to add this trick to your own weight management repertoire, we recommend proceeding with caution: Generally, eating a varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is the best way to cover your nutrition needs. But previous research does indicate that TOO much variety — think all-you-can-eat-buffet — can be too much of a good thing, as we tend to increase consumption when lots of options are on display.
So, how might you healthfully incorporate habituation into your diet regimen? First, limit the time period to a week or two. Second, choose a low-calorie, nutritious food to repeat — the Morning Banana Diet is a great example. Third, employ best practices of all successful, long term “losers”: daily weigh-ins, exercise — aerobic and weights, increased produce, limited liquid calories (that includes wine, friends!), and adequate sleep. Finally, lunch is actually a great meal to try this on, as research suggests portion control at lunch can result in real weight loss without hunger or overeating at other meals.