Photo Credit: L. Cohen/WireImage
I have a friend who has eaten the same exact thing for lunch for the past 12 years or so: A can of salmon, a Natural Ovens bagel, and a slice of Laughing Cow cheese. It never wavers. She doesn't add an apple on Mondays or a bag of Sun Chips on Fridays. She's never tempted by Chipotle or McDonalds and she never gets sick of her special triple combo.
"But it wasn't really a Cobb salad," Cox described. "It was a Cobb salad that Jennifer doctored up with turkey bacon and garbanzo beans and I don't know what. She just has a way with food, which really helps. Because if you're going to eat the same salad every day for 10 years, it'd better be a good salad, right?"
Wait, does Gerber make Cobb salad baby food?
I kid, I kid. I actually related to our Friends’ cuckoo custom. I tend to eat the same items every day myself: a decaf Americano, oatmeal, hard-boiled egg whites and fruit for breakfast, Greek yogurt and cereal plus some turkey or chicken for lunch, almonds and Craisins or a Fiber One bar for a snack and spinach salad with veggies and fish or chicken for dinner. Candy and chocolate are sprinkled throughout the day. Sure, I might go out for sushi one night and have sangria and guac the next, but I’d estimate that for 70 percent of the time, my mouth and stomach think they’re filming a scene from Groundhog Day –- they wake up to the same schtick, day after day.
This made me curious as to whether there’s any downside to eating on repeat, even if the food is healthy. So I asked iVillage’s diet and nutrition expert Madelyn Fernstrom, RD. Turns out, Aniston and Cox are on to something. "Consistency and structure are both key to successful weight management," Fernstrom says, " and eating the same meals every day can be a great support. It takes the guesswork out of the daily challenge of 'what to eat,' which can be mentally fatiguing."
One key to success, according to Fernstrom, is choosing a meal that can easily be modified with different proteins, like turkey, shrimp, chicken or garbanzo beans. Or you can escape the boredom of the same old breakfast of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit by picking mango one morning, watermelon the next, or swirling in honey and banana one day and layering it into a parfait with berries the next. "While 10 years is a long time for a single meal, even a few months of the same meal can help... You can actually be more consistent with nutrient balance when you keep the same routine."
A quick poll of my Facebook friends found that familiarity indeed breeds comfort for many of them. Their reasons varied from weight management to cost concerns to busy work schedules. Among the replies:
--Marina has eaten Farmer cheese with berries every morning for five years. (Farmer cheese is like a cross between cottage and cream cheese. Here’s a good brand.)
--Sarah ate Subway every day for two years for lunch.
--In college, Maria spent two years eating peanut butter and honey on toast for breakfast, stove-top popcorn popped in oil lunch and tuna salad with elbow noodles, green peas, chopped onion, raisins, mayo and mustard for dinner.
--Danielle starts every day with oatmeal and a protein shake.
--Betsy has sat down to a lunch of Greek yogurt and blueberries for the last two years.
--For twelve years -- the longest of anyone who responded -- Laura has had cut-up veggies with cottage cheese, half of a turkey sandwich, and some kind of baked chips for lunch.
Repetition -- it does a body good.
Do you have a food routine? Chime in below.
Like this? Read these:
-The 9 worst "Healthy" breakfast foods
-11 summer foods for weight loss
-The baby food diet and other outrageous celeb diets