It’s understandable that people are keen to cook and eat their go-to meals – let’s be real, it’s great to have quick and easy meals up your sleeve that don’t overcomplicate the food shop. Before we know it, we’ve suddenly eaten the same thing for days on the trot – after all, meal prepping is a thing, you know.
Routine helps us snack less, which can make us more mindful about what we’re putting in our bodies. Reaching for those unhealthy snacks can spike our blood sugar levels which also negatively impacts our gut health. Eating the same thing every day can help take the stress out of having to choose what to eat. It’s one less thing to think about. It can be overwhelming to figure out what to eat three times a day as we’re inundated with recipes and advice on social media and online. Sticking to those staple meals can help us hold back from any emotional or unconscious eating which can tend to lead to unhealthy choices.
But what actually happens to your gut if you eat the same meals every single day?
Well, restricting your diet can have a potentially negative effect on your gut health which has a knock-on effect on other areas of your health.
Lack of variety is not great for your gut health
Restricting your diet can limit the nutrients you eat which is not good for your overall health. Our guts thrive off a diverse diet with a wide assortment of plant foods that help positively impact your gut microbiome. Small changes to your favourite meals can make a real difference - from adding different toppings from seeds, herbs, or even fermented foods while ensuring a range of colourful fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet can lead to better gut health. Leafy greens, tomatoes, asparagus and berries are great options to incorporate into your daily diet. Overall, balance is the key to good gut health.
Challenges your fibre intake
In general, we should be incorporating fibre-rich foods such as whole grains and legumes, and a range of colourful fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure we work towards meeting our fibre goals. I always make a conscious effort to get plenty of fibre in my diet. Fibre is an important carbohydrate but one that is often neglected – many of us aren’t getting enough of it. The recommendation is to get 30g a day. It can feel overwhelming but if you make switches from white to brown rice, pasta, and bread and boost your usual meals with lentils, chickpeas, or mixed beans, you could be well on your way.
Eating the same thing every day can get boring! Food can bring such joy to our lives and eating a diverse, varied range of ingredients can be both delicious and nutritious. For example, you can try to mix up your meals by adding a different mix of seeds, legumes, fruits, or veg to your food each day, which is a good way of boosting the variety of fibre you’re eating, and they are delicious too. We’re now encouraged to eat 30 different types of plants each week and this can help boost the diversity and health of the gut microbiome. This may seem daunting but even herbs and spices can count towards this and are a great way to make your meals more exciting and interesting.
The bottom line?
Our guts thrive off a diverse diet with a wide assortment of plant foods that help positively impact your gut microbiome, which is an important component of digestion and food absorption.
A varied diet with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and fermented foods can help ensure your gut gets the nutrients you need.
Even small changes to your favourite meals can make a real difference - from swapping out certain ingredients like white bread, rice, and pasta for wholegrain versions to adding different toppings or sides from seeds, fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, or even fermented foods.
Dr Zoe Williams is working with Activia to coach people on the A-Z of gut health and raising awareness of the gut as fundamental to your overall health.