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How a Food Rut Can Be an Easy-Eating Strategy in Busy Times

When life is crazed, thinking about what to eat is the last thing you probably want to do. Falling into an eating rhythm could make nourishing yourself easier.

When life is crazy, thinking about what to eat is the last thing you probably want to do. Knowing that you’re going to eat a bagged salad kit with chicken for lunch and dinner is going to be a hamburger with whatever trimmings are in the fridge allows you to move through life, focusing on things that matter. Stuff like your job, your family, and your friends. Why should thinking about what to eat add to your cognitive load? It shouldn’t. Research published in Eating Behaviors found that subjects who were mentally taxed and tired were less likely to choose healthy foods and eat the recommended servings of produce compared to others who had less on their minds. Here’s where food ruts can step in.

Why You Should Adopt a Short-Term Food Rut

We’re not advocating for living a life where you eat the same thing every day until the end of time. There are some serious drawbacks to that: boredom, the possibility of missing essential nutrients, and creating a messy relationship with food, to name a few.

Consider the pressures on your time and your mind right now. Research shows that stress influences our eating for the worse because of the aforementioned bad food choices and mindless munching. Taking the guesswork out of the food equation could help keep you eating healthfully.

However, food ruts can be planned and used during specific times. For example, if you prepared your food for your following three shifts, deciding that you were going to eat a nut butter and jelly sandwich with an apple for lunch and a few ounces of chicken breast with penne, cherry tomatoes, and pesto sauce for dinner each day, then you would have one less thing to think about. You only need to decide what foods to include for your rut.

What You Will Eat

If you’ve decided that you might need to tap into the food rut eating trick, here’s how to prepare:

Step 1: Decision Time

Decide how long and what meals you are going to make repetitive. Depending on your life, you could zone out on food choices for all three meals for three days. Or, thinking about lunch pains you, so you want a lunch rut.

Step 2: Pick Your Meal

Eat your favorite meal right now for your go-to meal. For example, I love the kale slaw that my local grocery sells, especially when paired with beets, blueberries, blue cheese, and a little lemon juice. This tends to be my go-to/rut lunch because I hate thinking about what to eat, but I know I will always enjoy this salad. So what’s your favorite dish? Start there.

Step 3: Check Your Meal and Ensure Your Meals Have Nutrients

Adding fruits, vegetables, fats, and protein to each meal ensures you’re satiated.

Step 4: Stock the Kitchen 

Prepare to have all your ingredients ready so you can assemble the meal when the time comes. Now, if you have a family, this could prove harder, but it could work. Consider each day of the week to have a food theme. For instance:

  • Monday: Pasta
  • Tuesday: Tacos
  • Wednesdays: Sandwiches
  • Thursday: Breakfast for dinner
  • Friday: Pizza or take-out (kids’ choice)

Consider creating a food schedule that reflects your family’s wants. For instance, pasta night might become burger night, or you could have a fend-for-yourself night, where everyone needs to make their dinner. Ultimately, you should only consider putting yourself in a food rut when you don’t want to make other decisions. Food ruts, in general, are not the best way to eat long-term since they can create nutritional holes in your diet.

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