The Daily Beet

07 Mar Guest post by Lani: Can ‘bored’ be a sign of plant-strong diet progress?

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First, big bouquets of bok choy and kale kisses to readers of the Daily Beet here at Engine 2 Diet for the huge number of responses to Guest Post by Lani: Fire Cadet or Firefighter? Giveaway! PLUS Advanced Nutrition Study Weekend.   You know how to roll up our sleeves and get down and dirty with dietary change while having fun at the same time.  My first rule of plant-strong fitness is never lose your sense of humor and yours is securely in place.

The responses were ‘firefighter’ over ‘cadet’ approach  at a ratio of about 6:1.  Maybe that’s just because the ‘firefighters’ were more likely to speak out? We’ll never know.   A small number of responders said they did “a little of both”.  For example , if they had been a vegetarian for a few years before their diet became vegan, it was considered a ‘jump’ followed by another ‘jump’.   And there were even a few who said whole-heartedly “jump right in” a la firefighter, yet in the next sentence shared about what they were including in their diets that were “off plan”.  These I guess we would refer to as ‘jumpers’ with a little bit of tiptoe?

At any rate, you inspired more than you know with your responses, and thanks everyone. Your posts drew many follow-ups from me, and I hope you got a chance to read them.

And some I’ve earmarked for future reference. as with Katy’s post.  Katy talked about diet ‘boredom’.  But that isn’t inherently a bad thing.  Here’s what I mean.

Katy said:

I’m more of a cadet in my approach to dieting. I have tried the “all or nothing” approach and what seems to always happen is after a few weeks in, I get bored so I revert back to my old ways. I think that can also be a result of not varying the foods I eat while on a particular diet. For someone who isn’t the greatest cook, I tend to stick to routine and convenience, so I end up eating the same thing every day. I would love to go “all-in” and finally be able to say I eat only a plant-based diet, so this is a good assessment for me to determine why I don’t stick to plans I’ve tried before! Some people just have to let things happen gradually and naturally, and that has been a better approach for me overall! ~ Katy

Katy, maybe it is all about the variety as you suggest, yet it could be something else as well – a sign of progress!  Hear me out.

I’m really glad you posted this because it makes a huge point. When we first get started, on any endeavor as big as a diet-lifestyle change, there is what I call the honeymoon phase. It’s all so new and exciting! Motivation comes easy!

Then, you get into a rhythm – the changes get easier – and it becomes more commonplace for you. This is actually what you want, because it means habits are changing! The excitement and pleasure of your changing body and health are wonderful.  Yet perhaps a little of the honeymoon thrill is gone. You can read more about this interesting phenomenon in 1 step forward, 2 steps back: How to keep your diet & fitness progress from being hijacked by your inner slacker.  In that article I address some of the psychology of self-sabotage.   Sheds some light and offers some solutions, too.

So that’s one possible explanation for ‘diet boredom’.  But what if it’s variety that you need, as Katy suggests?

Today in comments, please share 1 or 2 of your top tips for shaking things up in your plant-strong progress to offset what’s-on-your-plate boredom, as opposed to “these are my new habits!” rhythm.

Lani Muelrath is a plant-strong fitness expert! Lani is the creator of The Body Transformation Formula and Fit Quickies™ 5 Minute Workouts. She has a Master’s Degree in Physical Education and over 30 years of experience as a teacher, coach, and trainer. She has received awards for her instruction, created and starred in her own CBS TV Show, and her expertise in the area of health and fitness is called upon by examiner.com, as Fitness Expert for Dr. John McDougall’s Health and Medical Center, coach, Dr. Neal Barnard’s 21-Day Kickstart program, and Health and Fitness Lifestyle Expert for Vegan Mainstream.com. She is Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. She and her husband also built their house with their own hands!

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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • Kate
    Posted at 07:41h, 07 March

    Sometimes I get so bored with plants that I don’t want to eat. I’m glad to know this is progress instead of some weird eating disorder. Pizza and cookies look amazingly good, when my son’s friends bring them around. All it takes is a tiny bite to remind me that I actually hate these things now; they gag me. So when a salad or soup won’t suffice, I call it a mini-fast, drink a quart of water, work on a non-food related project, and stop thinking I have anorexia.

  • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong health & fitness
    Posted at 08:30h, 07 March


    Anorexia is a serious issue. If someone is honestly considering that anorexia is becoming their experience, it should be addressed promptly.

    No need to limit yourself to salads and soup. There are all those yummy starchy and steamed veggies, fruit, whole grains, and if these have been playing a back seat then it’s time to bring them up to ride sidesaddle! Thirst is thirst, and sometimes thirst can masquerade as hunger, but this is a lifestyle of food celebration and satisfaction.

    Make something new today to enjoy, something plant-strong yet also not plant-punitive! Then report back in about it, OK?

    Thanks Kate!


  • Sara A
    Posted at 09:20h, 07 March

    I recommend going out and buying a few new spices. Then roast some veggies with your new spices. That should spice things up a little (pun intended) 🙂

  • Chris M.
    Posted at 10:03h, 07 March

    Variety, variety, variety. It’s important to realize that there are several good staple options that you can build on. I eat more varied meals now than I did before when I would default to the same boring meat main courses. Your week could have whole grain pasta on night one, lentils on night two, a massive salad on night three, black beans on night four and quinoa on night five. Those are good places to start and build on that. Throw in a stir fry, sweet potato lasagne, a night of soup and bread, a tofu curry and you’ve got more than a week of great meals. I find that if I keep grains around I always have something to work with and then I just add in as many veggies as I can find. If I haven’t been able to visit the store or farmer’s market, there’s always frozen veggies in the freezer to work with.

  • Dave
    Posted at 10:52h, 07 March

    We just pick 2 new recipes to try for the week, there are 1000’s of great recipes Fat Free Vegan, Happy Herbivore, Straight Up Food – but sometimes you just have to make the effort to go and find something you want to try. We try 1-2 new recipes a week to find something to our weekly rotation.

    • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong health & fitness
      Posted at 11:13h, 07 March

      Great strategy Dave. It can be overwhelming to see all the recipe options out there, so just pick a new one each week and commit to it. I usually don’t go for anything with more than 5 ingredients except on special occasions!

  • Jan
    Posted at 10:54h, 07 March

    I actually do better with keeping things the same every day, I have a plan and it makes it really easy to stick to things. I don’t find myself getting bored really. I will try new fruits and vegetables which I think can help, many people do not realize what a big selction of produce they have.

  • Chrissy @ Sassy Little Cabbages
    Posted at 11:03h, 07 March

    To keep variety alive, I love visiting new markets. Even if they are a little farther of a drive. It often leads me to new spices, new vegetables, new fruits and so on! I know this is harder in some parts of the country where there may be less selection … but it is a fun way to shop if you can. I also check out tiny natural markets, asian markets, etc … there is a LOT of food out there to discover! I just discovered kelp granules and am in love!

  • D
    Posted at 11:15h, 07 March

    I think that I have allowed myself to be entertained by food for too long in my live. A little bit of “boredom” is good. For me, it is about looking at food as fuel, not fun. Sure, I want to enjoy what I eat…and I am often trying new recipes. But if I get too caught up in the novelty and enjoyment of food, I can fall back into my old ways (food as a friend, food as stimulation, food as therapy, food as a way of coping with life), and I need to remember food a to nourish my body, not entertain me. But maybe that is just me.

    I do have some meals where I eat the same thing every day, then one meal where I make sure to mix it up a bit (usually dinner)…but I try now to fill that feeling of “bored” with non-food things (hobbies, volunteering, playing with my kids, working out, etc etc). Something I was never able to do before in other “diets.”

    It takes quite an emotional toll to get past the reasons why we use food for things other than nourishment. I still work on that most every day. But I think being a little bored with your eating plan isn’t that bad of a thing…maybe find something else to fill that need instead.

  • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong health & fitness
    Posted at 11:16h, 07 March

    Chrissy, I agree on the Asian markets – always some good finds! Indian too.

    Your blog is gorgeous, btw!

  • Katie Loss
    Posted at 11:43h, 07 March

    Think Plant Rainbows! I make a game of trying to include a veggie or fruit of each of the colors in the plant rainbow during the course of the day. It often leads me to some new veggie or fruit I’ve never tried at the grocery store too. Yesterday I found a “Marigold grapefruit”, for example. Vegetable and fruit colors indicate predominant phytochemicals, so eating a rainbow of colors each day keeps your body perking along as well as leading to visually exciting meals. My daily Rainbow includes: Red (e.g. tomatoes, red bell peppers, red-skinned apples…), Orange (I try to include a beta-carotene veggie like carrots or sweet potatoes and a citrus fruit daily along with “orange” spices like curry, turmeric, cayenne…), Blue-Purple (blueberries, grapes, purple kale, eggplant, purple potatoes…), Yellow (banana, yellow bell pepper, summer squash, corn…), White (onion/garlic family…), Tan-Brown (mushrooms, cocoa nibs -just a very few once in a while-, potatoes with skin…) and of course Green (love all those leafies, but don’t forget about artichokes, kiwi…) Here are several good books on this topic:
    Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (very little oil used in recipes) and The Color Code by James Joseph (this is the book that got me turned onto this exciting concept back in 2002–not “vegan” per se, but full of great scientific info with some recipes at the back).
    Finally, you can also think about veggies in terms of their parts: flowers, leaves, roots as a way to include variety. Leanne Campbell Disla, daughter of Dr. T. Colin Campbell recently published the very nifty Whole Foods Cookbook (available only through publisher at moment: http://www.wholeplantscookbook.com/) which takes this approach. A couple of her recipes were included in the Forks Over Knives companion book.

  • Lynnette
    Posted at 11:56h, 07 March

    I find that sometimes simple changes can shake things up a bit. Changing a few ingredients in a favorite dish to give it a different flavor. For example- potato slices sauteed with garlic & onions. I usually add sweet peppers, some frozen corn & some beans. Change it up with kalmata olives, wilted spinach and maybe some sundried tomatoes towards the end.
    Happy Herbivore’s weekly meal plans are a nice idea too. Lindsey plans out a weekly menu complete with a shopping guide. That is one way to get variety with very little planning on your part. You can easily substitute or swap meals if you like.

  • JoycieB
    Posted at 11:59h, 07 March

    For me, repetition and simplicity are best to keep me plant-strong. For some people, that translates to boredom yet for me there is comfort and security in knowing what I’m eating ahead of time.

    I wish I could be like the poster who says that eating cookies reminds them of how they don’t like to eat like that anymore. If I do that, (and I have, thinking that I can control myself now), I quickly revert to the sugar addict I am and compulsive gorging behavior follows. I definitely am a plant-strong wannabe, work-in-progress.
    Thanks for all you do to help me be healthier in so many ways!

  • Aggie
    Posted at 12:06h, 07 March

    I have my set of basic favorites that I will eat for the majority of my meals, like oatmeal, salads, roasted veggies with a grain and bean/veggie burgers. The remaining meals are my wildcard meals and that is where I will try to keep from getting “bored”.

    A few weeks ago I was on a soup kick and tried several new recipes but then got tired of them and have moved on to creating stir fries. Yesterday I cooked onions and shredded cabbage until lightly browned and served it over brown rice with dijon mustard, so good. Next week I will probably be tired of the stir fries and move on to something else to fill in those wildcard meals.

  • Cynthia
    Posted at 12:32h, 07 March

    One thing I like to do is a search online for new vegan recipes or buy myself a new vegan cookbook to change things up and bring some variety.

  • Camille Olsen
    Posted at 13:19h, 07 March

    You can take any bland vegetable like cauliflower, steam it and crush it, and then combine with this Mae Ploy hot red curry paste in a sauce, and you will have to the most delicious Thai-like dish you can imagine. I mix it with a little almond milk and a little agave and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and some nutritional yeast. Sooo delicious, to die for. http://wherecanibuyb.com/Where-Can-I-buy-Curry-Paste-194.html#.T1ev_q28wGg.facebook It’s available in the Asian aisle in major grocery stores or you can get it on Amazon.com.

  • Lani Muelrath, Plant-strong health & fitness
    Posted at 14:21h, 07 March

    So many great ideas coming down the plant-strong pike today. Thanks everyone, keep ’em coming!

  • Sheila
    Posted at 22:31h, 07 March

    Hot sauce is my friend!

    Seasonal eating makes for variety too. I’m anticipating fresh local asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb soon. The long winter builds up such expectations. Every year I think it was only my imagination and that I’m going to be disappointed because that first ripe tomato or peach can’t possibly match my excitment. I’m always shocked that the actual first taste is even better than I remembered. Food from the grocery store is pale in comparision to fresh from the garden. Summer and the living is easy and extra tasty!

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