Today I ate my packed lunch, went for my lunchtime walk, didn’t eat any of the candy strewn about my office building. Pretty standard things I do every day. In fact, the things I do to manage my weight are fairly monotonous. When I started this blog I thought I’d post every day about the choices I made that day to manage my weight, but I do many of the same things every single day. Pack my lunch, get some exercise, avoid over-consuming, avoid eating things that aren’t on my plan.
In fact, most days, until 5pm there’s no variation in my routine at all. I eat the same breakfast, lunch and snacks every day. Hot cereal, fruit, pre-packaged portion-controlled lunch, fruit, lunchtime walk. Wash, rinse, repeat. I change up the fruits and the veggies with the seasons, I use different cooking methods and play with sauces and spice, but in the end, there’s not a lot of variety in my regular daily routines. The only choice I get most days is dinner, and left to my own devices it’s veggies and grilled, baked, or broiled lean meat every day. I cleave to routine because I like predictable results. My husband gets bored and inventive sometimes with dinner, while keeping my caloric needs in mind. But mostly? I have a time-tested routine that I’ve developed over the years for getting my body the things it needs. I know it works, and it’s easy to implement every day without any special effort. But yes, it’s monotonous.
And I’m totally ok with that. When every meal is an exciting adventure or treat, every meal becomes an excess of calories my body doesn’t need. I have never claimed any modicum of self-control or willpower where food is concerned, so I need to implement systems that work with the personality I have.
I don’t think I’m the only one who can find a benefit in having a stable routine made up of only a few options. Science says that having lots of variety can cause you to eat more than you would otherwise. It’s something known as the “buffet effect”. Basically, the more variety and choices you have, the more you eat because your mouth or your brain recognizes every new taste as a fresh start. Or something like that. I find the same thing when I’m in an environment where there are lots of choices. I think to myself “I’ll be very conservative and just have a small taste of things” but you know what? A small taste of everything I want to taste at a large buffet can end up being more than I would eat of a simple meal I prepare at home.
So my goal is to control my environment when I can, so that the times when I can’t, I can enjoy myself a little bit without guilt or worry. Occasionally I enjoy a fancy meal out, or a donut with my coffee, but not every day. Most days I need to stick to the plan to get the results I expect.