Rise of the mono-lunchers

AMY MOLLOY
Last updated 17:26 07/05/2013
Eating

STICK TO WHAT YOU LOVE?: Eat the same thing every day? Mono-lunchers should try to mix it up.

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I have a confession - when I worked in an office I ate the same chickpea salad every day for eighteen months. On rare occasions I'd deviate, for catered meetings or colleague's birthdays, but 99 per cent of the time I'd chuck the same ingredients in a tupperware box. Every. Single. Morning.

It's not that I'm totally incompetent in the kitchen, but any meal eaten over a keyboard quickly loses its sheen, so why waste time and money being imaginative?

And I'm not alone in my repetitive eating patterns. In a British study one in three people admitted they tuck into the same lunch every day, some for up to six years straight. I suspect the results would be similar here. I can identify the majority of my friends and ex-colleagues simply by their lunch order.

As my friend Rebecca, a self-confessed mono-luncher, says, "The risk in trying something new is that you won't like it and then it's an entire meal wasted."

Yet it's hard not to feel guilty as you order "the usual" for the fifth day in a row from a café worker you just know is judging you. Is eating on repeat really healthy?

Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin eats the same breakfast every morning - grainy bread, avocado, tomato and eggs, sometimes with feta - and is an advocate of uniformed eating.

"These days we're far too overstimulated when it comes to food choices," says Bingley-Pullin, "We sometimes forget that food is just fuel and we spend far too much time thinking about it. My advice is have fewer options, but the right options. If a healthy eating plan is convenient it's more likely to be sustainable."

To keep her weight in check, Jennifer Aniston famously ate the same Cobb salad every day for ten years when starring in Friends and, although this is excessive by anyone's standards, there is evidence that the 'boredom diet' could be an effective weight loss method.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists at the University of Buffalo and Vermont found that women who ate the same macaroni and cheese every day for a week consumed 100 fewer calories over a 24 hour period.

Yet experts warn that following such a rigid meal plan could lead down the path of eating disorders.

"In recent years there's been a rise of orthorexia sufferers who are obsessed with eating healthily," says Lee Holmes, author of Supercharged Foods, "You shouldn't ignore your food cravings, although I'm obviously not suggesting you eat sugary, processed foods every time you get the urge. To eat for optimum health it is important to go with your gut instinct and listen to what your body needs."

There is also a traditional belief that overconsumption of a single food could lead to food intolerances, although there is no conclusive research to prove this.

"I've seen it happen with many of my clients," says James Duigan, creator of the Clean and Lean diet followed by Elle MacPherson, "I recently met with someone who ate smoked salmon every day for breakfast, but even that seemingly healthy choice can contain toxins from the smoking process, which build up in your system if you eat it to excess."

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The trick, according to Duigan, is having two or three sensible meals in your repertoire. "You don't need to be Masterchef, but mix it up a little for the sake of your body. Throughout history humans have altered their diets depending on the season, so no single meal should be eaten all year round."

From now on I'll be swapping "the usual" for "surprise me!"

- FFX Aus

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