The Med Gym
Experimenting With New Food
By Chris Zinn
I often hear people complain about having to eat the same thing over and over again when trying to lose or gain weight. They feel like their diet is becoming stale.
It makes sense; losing or gaining weight requires some time and effort, and it's not always easy to work a diverse list of foods into your menu. Because of this, you end up eating the same things to save time and prevent the hassle of having to think about what you’re going to eat later.
This is why most people have favorite foods that are staples in their diet, and they have foods that serve as more of a treat or are consumed on special occasions. Humans are creatures of habit, and when they develop a routine, they tend to stick with it.
This is true regardless of whether or not the habit is beneficial, if the foods are good or bad, or if the habit was developed by accident.
The foods might not even be bad for you per se, but the bland chicken and unseasoned broccoli that seems to be listed as the dinner special every night may be doing more harm than good in your efforts to lose weight.
You might be wondering… “I thought that consistency was the key to change?”
Consistency over time indeed creates change, but consistency here should apply to the broader idea of dieting. It may work for some people, but you don’t necessarily have to eat the same thing day in and day out to achieve noticeable results.
It’s also true that some people may not want or have time to experiment with different foods.
However, there may be a few scenarios in which trying new foods may be worthwhile.
Why Change the Menu?
There are a few reasons why expanding your current list of foods may be beneficial for you.
I mentioned earlier that eating the same foods day in and day out might be effective for a short amount of time - maybe a few months. After that though, it’s going to start getting stale… no pun intended.
Branching out and experimenting with new foods or recipes can breathe fresh air into your diet and help you achieve your goals without diet burnout.
If you’ve ever tried cooking something completely new, you’ll probably experience a few positive things.
Yes, you might burn the garlic the first try, or add in twice the recommended cayenne pepper, but dedicating a night to trying a new recipe with friends or family can be a fun experience!
Bonus if the food tastes good the first try!
Similar to how exercising the same way for a long time can stunt progress, eating the same way can cause your weight loss to plateau.
If you’ve been eating the same thing day after day, it might be a good idea to experiment with some new foods or new diet strategies.
Explore the Store
One reason people stick to the same meals from week to week is that they aren’t aware of what else is out there.
No, I don’t mean people don’t know pineapples exist. However, they might discover they like certain foods or combinations of foods if they only knew about them.
That’s why from time to time I tell people to schedule an hour or two out of a day (really schedule…like put it in your calendar) to go to the grocery store and not buy anything.
That’s right, you heard me. Just look around and explore the store!
Wander each aisle and take a look at what foods are where. Explore the vegetable section, look at each vegetable, take some notes of vegetables you haven’t used before.
Do the same with fruits, meats, seafood, and even the dairy section!
Do you often walk past the butcher and wonder about the different cuts of meat? Stop and ask some questions.
Explore salad dressings, marinades for meats, and different ways to top and finish your meals.
Look at food labels and compare foods.
The goal here is to explore parts of the store you don’t usually go to when you’re on a time crunch. Hopefully, in the process, you find some things you want to try (or at least spark a few ideas!).
Take a Field Trip
Once you’ve become acquainted with your local grocery store, it’s time to expand your horizons a little bit and take a field trip.
This is a great way to become more familiar with whole, organic foods, and fresh cuts of meat.
Local Butcher Shop
Taking a trip to your local butcher shop will show you just how little you know about cuts of meat, and even the types of meat you can buy. There are tons of different meats you can buy and plenty of different cuts you can get them in.
Local Farmers Market
The farmers market is not only a fun little trip, but it’s also home to fresh, homegrown, organic, and unique foods. From local honey to fresh produce, you can’t go wrong scouring the farmers market for some exciting new foods.
A fish market will be similar to a butcher shop; it will make you realize just how many fish there are and how many of them you can eat. It can be helpful to go explore to see if there is some seafood you enjoy.
Pick Your Own Farm
You might even have a local farm nearby that sells produce, fruits, or vegetables. Take a trip there and explore!
Switch Up the Technique
Once you’ve got your fresh local produce, and fabulous new cuts of meat, it’s time to prepare them.
Now, maybe you’ve mastered the reverse sear with your steak, and maybe you can julienne your vegetables faster than Gordon Ramsey himself, but we’ve got all this new unfamiliar food… why not prepare it in new ways too?
Maybe you are comfortable with your cooking methods and you’re thinking:
“Whoa, whoa! This is too much! You’ve changed all my foods and now I have to buy an air fryer too?!”
That’s fine. Prepare your foods however you like! However, if you’re tired of oven-cooked chicken give these methods a try:
Slow cooking your food can dramatically change your food's texture, and taste. Not only that, but there are also some very easy slow cooker recipes out there to try!
Next time you fire up the ol’ grill, go ahead and throw on not only the meat, but also the vegetables, and even fruit!
This can be a great way to get a little different effect on your foods. Instead of just steaming them, give them a nice char.
Man do I envy you if you’re about to try grilled pineapple for the first time!
Pre-Chop Your Fruits and Veggies
It can be helpful, not to mention a huge time-saver, if all of the veggies you plan to eat for the day are pre-chopped and all you have to do is pick the bowl or baggie of fruits and vegetables you want to enjoy.
Spending a couple of minutes at the start of the day to chop some food makes it easy to skip the processed food when you have a snack ready to go.
Variety is the Spice of Life
So, if you’ve become complacent with your current diet, you’re looking to change things up, or you aren’t seeing the progress you hoped for, it might be a good idea to give some new foods or recipes a try.
Like I mentioned above, carve out some time in the day and make it an adventure!
Just touring the grocery store or the farmers market can make you aware of lots of Whole Foods that you might not have been aware of before.
Give it a try!
Want to find out more about how to craft an approach to eating that will fit in with your needs, goals, and lifestyle? You can get started today working with Med Gym's own Certified Nutrition Coach, Chris Zinn, in our Nutrition Coaching Program!
If you've tried diet after diet and struggled to reach your goals, nutrition coaching may be the answer you need. Working with a qualified nutrition coach to craft and stick to the plan that is the right fit for you can be game-changing!
Contact us here to learn more about the nutrition coaching program and how you can get started.