The Daily Beet

23 May Variety vs. Simplicity: Why Simple Might Be The Key To Success

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Do people succeed more when there is more variety? Or does simplicity lead to more success?

With all of the recipes out there, meal options, meal plans and more, you’d think we would have this plant-strong thing down. However, it turns out what we might need more of is less. Less complication, less variety. It might not sound like it would work that way, however if we look at people who have been successful at the plant-strong life for decades, we see that simplicity might be the key to long lasting health (and not pulling your hair out).

Read Jeff Novick’s article about variety vs. simplicity.

What works for you? Simplicity or variety?

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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!

  • http://alittleginger.blogspot.com Ginger

    Interesting idea. I guess I like variety. By eating seasonally, I can stick with my cabbage, onions, carrots, garlic, miso, beans, and grains, changing things up with in season fruits and veggies.

  • Gina

    I like this article. I’ve been vegan for a little over a year now and have found so many recipes that require so many ingredients that it felt like I was spending far too much money on groceries, just to make somewhat complicated foods. I’ve been toying with the idea of really going back to basic non-recipe foods that are just as whole and unencumbered as possible, and this article supports that type of idea!

  • Ninufar

    A nice summary of an important result, but I would really like to see more details about how well this works for different people.

    Novick says:
    “The study was a realistic test of what can be achieved by dietary treatment alone for obese patients because the patients were typical of the general population who are trying to lose weight.”

    I can’t tell which of many studies he meant, within the same AP article, which I think is this one:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5052771/ns/health-fitness/t/overcoming-salad-bar-effect/#.T706j-3v2fc
    (the tinyurl Novick provided didn’t work when I clicked on it)

    Obese patients who are willing to sign up for a clinical trial are not even fully representative of all obese people, let alone most Americans. Some of the people drawn to web sites about healthy eating are not obese and have restricting tendencies, even before you provide them with ideals like “plant PERFECT”. It’s entirely possible that what might be really helpful for a proactive obese patient might have a negative effect on someone trying to break out of a binge/purge cycle.

    I read about these variety-vs-satiety effects years ago and I definitely try to use them on a per-meal basis… meaning if there are 14 different dishes/snacks/whatever in a meal, that’s not a good sign. On a per-week basis, if I don’t have about 3 entrees to switch between, it’s not a good plan — it’s likely to encourage me to rebel against my own healthy plans.

    just my 2 cents’-worth…

  • http://www.whispersinthesilence.blogspot.com andrea

    I’m used to variety (it’s what I grew up with) but love the idea of simplicity especially because it reduces the mental work that goes with meal planning for a family. Sometimes the hardest part about dinner (or lunch) is deciding what to have. :)

  • http://plantstrongcyclist.com Lynn M

    A combination of simple vs. variety is what works for me.

    Breakfast is almost always oatmeal, but I vary the fruit that I add to it. I always have a salad for either lunch or dinner or both, but I vary the toppings to keep it interesting – and to make sure I’m getting a good variety of nutrients. Since I love to cook so much, I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying new recipes, I just choose the ones with simple ingredients.

  • Ninufar

    One thing where I give both Esselstyn plans (E2 and Heart Attack Proof) a ton of credit is that they offer very do-able meal plans that provide a variety of tastes throughout the day.

    I’m not interested in trying a one-food-only plan; sounds like a “diet”, and diets have always made me NUTSO! But when I look at recommended menus e.g. from the 28-day kickstart plan under your “Tools” tab here, I see manageable meals. Last night I looked up info in “Becoming Vegetarian”, an awesome and info-packed book I love, and I looked at the meal plans. Argh! Who has time to prepare both hot cereal and toast, plus a few other items, all just for breakfast? It’s kinda like all the RD’s are thinking they have to compete with the idealized advertisement breakfast or something.

    So further thanks to the E2 team for serving up some plans that fit into busy days. Since I love hot cereal, I try to make 4 days’ worth at a time — Bob’s Red Mill GF oats or Mighty Tasty GF cereal — so on most days, it’s just something I can nuke and eat w/my fruit.