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same or different? (weight loss)

Anyone know what “the experts” say about eating the same foods to promote weight loss? I always hear that one should try new foods when trying to lose weight. I often do (especially at dinner), but I have found a few foods that consistently keep me full that I truly enjoy (my whole-grain cereal in the morning with cinnamon, a few nuts and/or frozen fruit; my homemade yogurt w/agave). Is there any evidence that eating the same (healthful) foods can promote weight loss?

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  1. Well, eating the same foods will definitely promote boredom. And people end up eating less of it. There's been ample evidence that if one eats a variety of food, people end up eating more than if they eat just a single food.

    1. I think the notion of trying new foods is more about not having people get bored when modifying the diet. When a food is removed from the regular diet, replacing it with something new/healthy can make it feel at least as though one's diet isn't shrinking to nothing of interest.

      That being said, my mom works with overweight children - and I've never heard that eating the same healthy foods is any better or worse than eating a variety of healthy foods. I think this is more of a mind game related to people getting bored and then more likely to "spice up" their diet with unhealthy food.

      One thing that she is rating as the new "death food" is corn syrup and fructose. Apparently a new study recently came out that showed that the amount of sugar in corn syrup and fructose is usually so high that the liver can't handle it. So it ends up reacting the same way to those sugars as it does to fat. Meaning that even 100% juice has more sugar in it than the body technically needs. Take that as you will, it's a brand new study.

      Those things are far more hot button issues than repetitive or variety eating.

      1. If you eat the same AMOUNT of the same TYPE of food everyday and you maintain the same activity level, then no, you won't lose weight.

        Calories in +/- Calories out = weight loss (or gain).

        1. There's no reason, physiologically speaking, why your body would metabolize new foods any differently than your old favorites. But yes, more psychologically speaking, whether it's new or old, a variety or a few foods, could affect your eating behavior, as others have pointed out. The bottom line is, if you eat the same number of calories it shouldn't make any difference at all. Eat whatever you would enjoy most!

          1. the reasoning behind the theory lies in the belief that when faced with a variety of choices, we're likely to eat more because we end up wanting some of everything...sort of a buffet mentality. so if you stick to a limited number of foods, there's no real novelty, and you're less likely to feel compelled to eat more than you want or need.

            it's actually an interesting premise. if you want to read more about it, peruse a copy of "the flavor point diet" by david katz.

            1. I find the theory that variety promotes overeating pretty convincing, but the question then becomes whether you can sustain restrictions in the long run, especially given the abundance and variety of food that we're constantly encountering. It's easy to be vigilant at the beginning of a diet, when you're feeling inspired and empowered, but later on, when you've plateaued or some big food holiday rolls around, it's very very difficult to maintain a restrictive eating pattern. That's why I think a more holistic approach is both more effective and more humane -- not "I can't eat that" or "I have to make sure to get so many servings of this," but "I'm going to eat this less often," or "I'm going to substitute this for that," or behavior mod around snacks and portion sizes.

              1. The best luck I've had in losing and keeping off weight -- maybe ever -- is to avoid only refined or processed grains (including potatoes) and sugars. I ate EVERYTHING else, including dairy, meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, dairy, legumes, nuts, whole grains and alcohol.

                While I was losing weight i didn't even eat whole wheat bread because it is processed and the body more quickly converts it to sugar. I did, however eat cooked brown rice, wild rice, barley, wheat berries, etc.

                My appetite decreased, my energy level increased, my cravings disappeared and I lost weight -- about 25 lbs -- without ever experiencing deprivation or dieting.

                1. i respect the notion that boredom or familiarity and lack of novelty promotes decreased consumption levels, but what i see in the "eat a variety" camp encouraging is sticking to a program of healthy eating because one is *not* bored. the eat more operates under the impression that a diet's longevity will be promoted by the feeling that one is not being deprived or restricted. maybe you intake more, but i think the thinking is that you'll be able to adhere to the program better with more leniency and more tastebuds and whims met. another benefit is of course a greater variety of nutrients, which should also reduce cravings as the body won't be so much jonesing. that's just the defense for the eat more camp. me, i tend to get on kicks and will eat the same foods daily for a while til i burn out and turn over to a new obsession.

                  1. I agree that this is psychological.
                    I have no problem eating the same foods over and over. I have the same breakfast and afternoon snack every day. It makes it easy to keep track of my calories, etc when I am eating something familiar. I do keep my eyes and ears open for new options, though. If I come across something that is as good or better than something I am currently using, I know I have a new option in case I get bored.
                    As another poster said, calories in - calories out = weight lost/gained. It is really a matter of finding what works for you. Figure out which makes you want to cheat more: getting bored from eating the same foods consistently, or temptation from having a variety of foods at hand.

                    1. As a person who is dieting right now (and done pretty well - 68 pounds in 16 weeks) I have used the new diet as an excuse to add variety and get out of old routines.
                      I have been doing a lot of cookbook reading and begun shopping at our local Vietnamese, Korean, and co-op stores.
                      That said, I have also developed some "routine" foods that are filling and low cal, such as my morning hot six-grain cereal.

                      1. The question is how long will you be happy eating the same food? Most people can sustain that for a few months but how many do it for a lifetime (Jared aside)? And once they stop, they generally go in the other direction and binge. Healthwise, a variety of foods will more likely meet your nutritional needs better. I don't mean replacing home made yogurt with a pop tart for variety but with something equally nutritious but has different vitamins and minerals. As weight loss and diets go, think long term. Can you do this forever?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chowser

                          I completey agree, you need to think about what you can maintain in the long term...some excellent recent research on dieting has found that while just about any diet will make you lose weight in the short term, almost all dieters have gained the weight back (actually, most have gained it all back, plus a little more) at two-year follow-up. The ups and downs are bad for health, and the vast majority of people end up heavier and less healthy than if they'd never dieted in the first place. In fact, if you are trying to predict if people are going to gain weight in the long term, and you could ask them only one question, a good one would be, "are you dieting?" Anyway, the idea is that dieting, as such, not only doesn't really make sense, it may even be harmful in the long run...so when we make a change in what we eat, we need to make it the kind of change we can maintain for the rest of our lives. So this is a round-about way of saying don't worry about what might make you lose weight the fastest right now, think about what would work for you in the long-term.

                        2. The best news I've seen on the subject of weight loss in a while is an article in today's paper that mentions a study showing that people who get more sleep eat less! Apparently lack of sleep causes the body to produce appetite-enhancing hormones. Dream on, I say!
                          Link: http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articl...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: BobB

                            Yes, there has been a lot of solid-looking research that seems to confirm this principle. But the author of this book really comes off as a pill in the interview.