I read about an interesting study on TheStar.com this morning, that was done in Australia which found that marriage makes you fat! Yep, you read that right. Scientists from Central Queensland University, who analysed data from some 15,000 people over the course of 10 years, found that people with significant others had gained an average of 5.7 kilograms per year, while unattached participants gained only 1.7 kg per year.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Stephanie Schoeppe (lead researcher) explained that when someone didn’t feel the need to look lean and attract his or her partner anymore, he or she would feel free to consume big portions of food high in fat and sugar.
- She went on to say that couples who have become parents also tend to finish their children’s food.
- Other reasons include more romantic dinners and certain food-related social behaviour.
But, before you get all depressed and decide to finish a tub of ice-cream, there is some good news too, for those of us in love relationships.
The researchers found that married couples didn’t necessarily have an unhealthier lifestyle compared to singles, and actually ate more fruit, tend to quit smoking, avoided alcohol and exercised together. All good stuff!
And even though weight gain seems to become the unwanted third party in your marriage, being married also have other benefits.
The researchers said that married people tend to be happier, less lonely and have a more satisfying sex life than their single counterparts.
Yay, for all the married peeps out there!
Now, as a married and family man, I completely understand how easy it is to always opt for convenience when it comes to food choices, and just how hard it is to follow through on good intentions.
Getting pizza delivered will always beat steamed broccoli and fish (my favs, just FYI) in our home after a busy day, as far as the kids are concerned anyway.
Judge me if you want, but it’s a fact.
So, the question I started wondering about was,
How do you get around this in a way that makes it easy for everyone in your family to follow, while improving your chances to stay lean and healthy, especially as a spouse or parent?
And, I think I found a simple answer, albeit a boring one:
What is “meal repetition” exactly?
It’s basically the idea of eating the same type of meals each day and rotating them around.
In fact, a lot of health and fitness experts I follow online, also endorse this idea of rotating simple-to-prepare, good-tasting, yet healthy meals around over the course of one’s week.
Because it’s easy and even more convenient than opting for the cheap and unhealthy options.
Doing this has many benefits and will even work when you have kids.
You just need to figure out what healthy options they actually like, and then work with that.
Now, before I share with you a few examples of what meal-days could look like, I’ve compiled 5 surprising benefits of meal repetition to think about first, before you decide to ditch this idea.
Save money, time, and temptation at the grocery store.
First of all, when you start eating similar meals, your grocery shopping is a breeze!
You’ll quickly figure out where to find your favourites and how much they cost.
You can go directly to what you need and avoiding all the calorie-laden temptations we tend to always notice when we go to the shop.
Secondly, by always buy the same stuff, you can figure out how to also buy in bulk, which will help you save money in the long run.
Also, by always eating the same food, you’ll most likely always have enough ingredients stored away.
I always buy one to two bags of frozen broccoli and cauliflower mix whenever we go to the store, which means I always have some in the freezer for steaming at any time.
We tend to look for temptations when we either run out of ideas for meals OR or the ingredients themselves.
So, meal repetition is a great anti-confusion and anti-temptation strategy.
Junk food is less tempting.
When you eat healthy and delicious meals that are familiar to you, all the time, you won’t be tempted by junk food during the day.
The key to weight loss is very much connected to managing your insulin levels, which in turn has to do with being in a fasted state more than a fed state, but eating healthy food that you love and promotes weight loss is also hugely important.
The reason for this is because healthier, nutrient-dense-low-calorie foods (eg. sweet potatoes) also don’t create huge insulin spikes in your body like calorie-dense-nutrient-deficient foods (eg. pasta) do.
Familiar, healthy meals will be more satisfying, comforting and stop you from craving junk food in the long run.
A little variety is still possible.
Even if you eat the same basic meal each day, you can add a little variety to spice things up.
For example, if you eat oatmeal for breakfast every day, you can add variety by changing your toppings.
One day, add blueberries, and the next day, add strawberries, the next day, banana and cinnamon.
Doing this will create the illusion that you’re eating different meals each day, while still keeping the foundation of the meal healthy and nutritious.
You stop viewing food as a reward.
One of the main issues for people who struggle with weight loss is how they look at food and their feelings about it.
It’s common to have an unhealthy view of food.
You may see it as a reward or punishment.
Neither one of these views is healthy or sustainable long-term.
By viewing food as a reward, you may be tempted to overeat and indulge in ice cream or candy after you do well at work.
You can also reward yourself with junk food after a hard day because you think you deserve it.
By viewing food as a punishment, you start to resent healthy salads and kale. You may even begin to hate food that is part of your diet.
But, when you practice meal repetition and eat the same food each day, you don’t think of it as a reward or punishment.
You learn to see it as fuel for your body that isn’t attached to emotions, stress, or other things.
It’s simply a means to an end to help you function optimally, stay lean and healthy, remain active, and enjoy life as result thereof.
You plan ahead for challenges.
I appreciate that temptation is all around us.
Diet challenges are everywhere.
Not being able to cook every night or being surrounded by doughnuts at work, can sabotage your weight loss goals, and there’s often very little you can do about your environment (apart from your personal home that is).
But, when you use meal repetition and you have the same meals and plan ahead to eat, you actually reduce many of the challenges a lot of couples struggle with.
You can cook on the weekends, freeze food, and know what you’re eating every day. We call this meal preparation.
You don’t have to waste time figuring out what is healthy or safe for your diet.
Instead, you can eat what you’ve already planned.
What I’m sure you’ve also discovered by now, is that when you don’t have to think about your food choices all the time, then your diet becomes much more doable, enjoyable, and feel less annoying and restrictive.
You simply eat what is required and move on.
You don’t dwell on calories or fat.
So, hopefully, I got you sold on meal repetition for now, but let’s look at what this would look like in practice.
Before I do that though, please note 5 things:
- I’m not a dietician or nutritionist,
- I practice IF (intermittent fasting) six times per week, 16-20 hours fasting and 4-8 hours eating-window, which means I don’t have breakfast, but I do add breakfast in as an example,
- I don’t do snacks per se due to IF, but rather 2 mini-meals, a large meal, and a special dessert at night, but do drink plenty of water throughout the day,
- I see food as fuel, which means I prefer boring and easy as it’s effective.
- I’m not trying to give you a full meal-plan below, just an example of what meal repetition could look like.
Here are some simple ideas to use as part of your meal repetition plan:
- Water first thing in the morning
- Black Coffee/Rooibos Tea
- Steel Cut Oats (add protein powder, or banana, or berries, or a bit of honey)
- Omelet (2:1 egg whites to whole egg), with spinach, tomatoes, and onions,
Morning Snack (with a bottle of water)
- Small can of tuna (with a teaspoon of fat-free mayonnaise)
- Two boiled eggs
- Peanut butter and honey sandwich (rye or sourdough bread)
- Fruit (Apple or banana)
Lunch (every meal with a bottle of water)
- Tuna salad (with fat-free mayo) on a whole wheat wrap or without
- Chicken salad
- Thai beef salad
Afternoon snack (with a bottle of water)
See morning snack
Dinner (with a bottle of water)
- Grilled tuna with steamed cruciferous vegetables and small kumara
- Grilled salmon fillet with steamed cruciferous vegetables and small kumara
- Grilled chicken breast with steamed cruciferous vegetables
- Sirloin steak with steamed cruciferous vegetables.
Once you’ve decided on your different meals and stocked up on the ingredients, the magic of meal repetition will take over and really simplify everything from here on out.
All you need to do is rotate your meal options around which will create the illusion of different foods, but in reality, they’re all part of one a simple, organised, range of food options.
Moreover, by adding different spices or sauces to the different ingredients, you also create a different experience each time.
Take away …
I appreciate that the research indicates that marriage makes you fat, but that doesn’t mean you have to become a statistic.
There are always ways to improve WHAT we do, and HOW we do things.
Meal repetition is just one great way of taking control of your meal planning, preparation, AND waistline!
Living healthily and eating well doesn’t have to be a complex process.
You don’t have to experiment with complicated recipes or new foods every day of the week (unless you love that type of thing).
That will only lead to a sense of overwhelm and you ultimately giving up long before you see any results.
It’s fine to cook and eat the same foods, as long as they’re healthy and you enjoy them.
You can simplify your life with this method of meal repetition and lose weight at the same time.
I hope this gave you some ideas.
Remember, live and love fully!
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