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How much variety is enough?

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Author Topic: How much variety is enough?  (Read 7655 times)

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bonnie2315k

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How much variety is enough?
« on: April 21, 2006, 04:12:48 PM »

Many of us have goals of incorporating certain foods daily and there are only so many variations that are palatable at all. My question is basically, how many variants does it take, to achieve adequate flavor variety?

For example, we're all supposed to get 3 grams of oat bran daily. For breakfast I need something quick and easy and cannot stand the pasty texture of hot oatmeal in its typical form, so it's Cheerios (the least unhealthy option in my grocery store). Lots of things taste good on cheerios but how many different options do I need if I alternate day-to-day? Dried cranberries on day, cinnamon the next, can I go back to the cranberries on day 3 or do I need more choices?

I am also drinking one serving daily of grapefruit juice and pomegranate juice.  Each juice alone, plus the two mixed, constitute three variations. Is one variant a day enough? I drink green tea every day and there are only so many ways I can vary that. I could drink a different tea every day but I'd rather have green.

Is the flavor difference between a red delicious apple and a granny smith enough to alternate day-to-day, eating a different variety each day?

On another topic, it just seems wasteful to be consuming sugar water, which is nothing but empty calories. It is also very difficult to get it down, though not as hard as the oil, which is off the table for me (except in the form of essential fatty acid supplements). Would I be killing the effect if I drank juice and milk between meals, but perhaps through a straw to minimize the flavor? (Pomegranate juice especially is not that palatable.)

Finally, do you think that adding a fiber supplement to the sugar water would have an effect whatsoever?
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Seth Roberts

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How much variety is enough?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2006, 01:13:38 AM »

those are good questions (which should generally be posted to the Ask Seth Shangri-La Diet forum).

I don't think there is such aa thing as "enough" variation--the more variation the better. But I think you have the wrong idea: it is not variation exactly that is the goal, the goal is to eat unfamiliar flavors. For example, varying between granny smith and red delicious accomplishes nothing once they both become familiar.

It's easy to have all new flavors -- simply add several different spice blends (randomly chosen from a much larger number -- e.g., 3 or 4 blends randomly chosen from 10 or 15) to your food. You will never repeat the same combination. These blend combinations taste neither good nor bad, in my experience. They taste like "whatever".

Drinking juice through a straw between meals is unlikely to work. Because you will still taste the juice.

Adding a fiber supplement to the water would be okay if it didn't have any flavor.

I don't think you need to worry about the green tea unless you add a lot of sugar. You don't need to worry about non-caloric flavors.

Seth
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bonnie2315k

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2006, 10:07:20 AM »

Are you saying that

Because I really don't think it's at all practical to CONTINUALLY eat unfamiliar foods. You are going to repeat. No combination of spices will provide infinite variety.

And what about the fact that if something was good, you want to have it again?

It seems like you feel that the strategy of alternating flavors is just as bad as eating the same thing day after day.
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Seth Roberts

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2006, 12:02:24 PM »

More excellent questions.

Yes I am saying that it is pointless to alternate foods. Both of them will become familiar and familiar = fattening.

What to do when a food tastes good? Well, I hope it tastes good because of its texture or its complexity of flavor. If it tastes good because you've had exactly the same flavor many times -- such as Coke, McDonald's hamburgers, your favorite packaged granola, your favorite health bar -- you're in trouble. Those foods are very fattening.

I think it is possible, even easy, to never have the same flavor combination twice. Just buy 10 or more spice blends and, as I said, add a random 4 of them to your food. Keep in mind 2 things:

1. A little goes a long way. The essence of my discovery that led to the Shangri-La Diet was that really small amounts of sugar water or flavorless oil produce a huge weight loss. I lost 35 pounds just from 100-200 calories per day of the stuff. That's huge. Most weight-loss diets require far greater modification of your diet and produce far worse results. I should know--I'd tried many other things. So you don't need to have food that is totally random, totally unfamilar, because a 400 or 500 calorie dish would be incredibly potent if it was totally unfamiliar.

2. A little goes a long way -- look at the 1950s. In the 1950s, Americans were much thinner than today. Sure there were fat people, but far fewer of them. Kids weren't fat. What was different? They weren't in good shape. They didn't eat a low-fat diet. They didn't eat a low-carb diet. They didn't eat any special way. They ate utterly normal food in whatever quantities they wanted. The big difference was that they made it themselves. Frozen food back then was TV dinners! Ugh. There wasn't this take-out-food prepared-food culture we have now. There were far fewer McDonald's. No Starbucks. No Pizza Hut. They did not eat food that tasted exactly the same each time -- that is the only difference I can see. They weren't TRYING to vary the flavors of their food, yet they did so just by making it themselves (and not using mixes). I'm just saying you'll get even better results--better than the 1950s--if you consciously try. There's no need for perfection--making every food totally new. Far from it.
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Stephen M (Ethesis)

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2006, 06:12:19 AM »

Just FYI, I was in SAMS last night and passed a book that had 30 minute meals, a years worth, with no repetition.  365 different meals (the idea is that you just use a new recipie every day).  There will probably be more books like that.

Buy a book like that, it lasts you a year.  At the end of the year, rinse and repeat with the book, or look for another one like it.  I don't doubt that we may see a branded SR (Seth Roberts) book of the same type to go with the diet, assuming Seth has the time.

Seth Roberts

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2006, 11:38:17 AM »

That's a better example than you know, Stephen: that 365 meals book is by Rachael Ray, who has the same book agent as I do. I like and admire Ray so who knows? My agent will pass on your comment to her. Ray did once say that she must have been crazy to write that book, it was so much work.
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bonnie2315k

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2006, 08:10:37 AM »

I get it but I still think it's unrealistic to not repeat foods. My husband will not go for it, for one thing. He insists on his certain treats and favorites on a regular basis.

But how important is the variety compared to using the sugar and oil?
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bonnie2315k

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2006, 08:15:49 AM »

Oh, and he is not the fat one in the family, I am.

He does everything wrong: beer (real or fake depending on work schedule) all day long. Same foods day after day, like a block of pepper cheese as his main snack. A steak as often as he can grill one. And it HAS TO have corn on the cob or baked potato with butter and sour cream.

OK, he has gout. (And BTW he at one time followed all the food recommendations for EIGHT MONTHS and his symptoms did not lessen, only allopurinol has helped him so it ain't the diet, his father has it too.)

But apart from that, he is muscular and of average weight for his size.

He bikes to work but that can't be enough to keep him thin, can it? I also bike or walk two miles a day with no positive results whatsoever to show for it on the bathroom scale.
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Seth Roberts

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2006, 11:39:02 AM »

Variety vs sugar and oil: Variety is no value at all. It is novelty that matters, even novelty introduced by sprinkling some cinnamon or cumin or whatever on something out of a package. Variety may start as novelty but it doesn't stay there.

Your husband's interest in home-cooked food -- such as steak -- probably helps. It is food out of a package that tastes exactly the same each time that is what's really fattening. I don't know about beer. There are lots of beers.

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bonnie2315k

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2006, 12:22:09 PM »

There are lots of beers but not enough, even in chicago, to provide continual novelty.

so OK you're saying it's novelty that matters. How important is novelty versus using the sugar and oil?

And how does it square with your allegations of "The No Hunger, Eat Anything" plan.

Having to NEVER repeat a flavor combination is NOT being able to eat anything.

Picture this image of well-being: you finish a meal, think to yourself how great it tasted, just a delicious combination of flavors, and then realize... YOU CAN NEVER EAT THAT AGAIN!!!!"

Can you see why I am dubious?

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Seth Roberts

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2006, 04:48:17 PM »

Of course you can eat a great meal again. You can eat anything. It's not a diet where you must do

A AND B AND C

It's a diet where you do

A AND/OR B AND/OR C

If you don't want to do C (novelty) -- fine. Just do A (flavorless oil) or B (sugar water) or both.  It will still work. A and B and C have the same effects. Their effects add.

It's not a diet where you must change all the calories you eat. For most people changing a small fraction of them will be enough. (I lost enough weight changing about 10% of my calories.) Leaving you plenty of calories to eat whatever you want. Thus the "Eat Anything" subtitle. It is not literally true -- you have to follow SOME rules about what you eat. Of course. But compared to any previous diet I know of it is true.

And keep in mind that while continual novelty is best, simply eating foods that are prepared inexactly -- home cooking, in other words -- may go a long way. As I said about the 1950s.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2006, 07:57:18 PM by Seth Roberts »
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Ann Hendricks

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2006, 05:22:21 AM »

Uh, also...

To try to eat something totally new each and every time seems to be overly-reductive. I think that's reading rather too much into Seth's methods. After all, if you were completely successful at eating something totally new every time, by theory, your set point would be "set" at perpetual, unending  weight loss: not good!!!

Seth explained this really nicely on a blog once, saying that the proportion of new flavors (or "flavorless") calories within your total daily intake influences your set point to that proportionate degree. You wanna lose a little bit at a time? Keep your proportion set to a little unfamliar / "flavorless" stuff. Lose more or faster? Increase your proportion. But ALL new flavor / flavorless seems a bad idea, as well as impractical, to me.

Cheers,
Ann
AKA Annie, "Annie's Shangri-la diet blog"
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GilbertZ

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Re: How much variety is enough?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2006, 03:00:10 AM »

Oh, and he is not the fat one in the family, I am.

He does everything wrong: beer (real or fake depending on work schedule) all day long. Same foods day after day, like a block of pepper cheese as his main snack. A steak as often as he can grill one. And it HAS TO have corn on the cob or baked potato with butter and sour cream.

OK, he has gout. (And BTW he at one time followed all the food recommendations for EIGHT MONTHS and his symptoms did not lessen, only allopurinol has helped him so it ain't the diet, his father has it too.)

But apart from that, he is muscular and of average weight for his size.

He bikes to work but that can't be enough to keep him thin, can it? I also bike or walk two miles a day with no positive results whatsoever to show for it on the bathroom scale.

Bonnie,

Allupurinol is awful. It causes cancer. My uncle died as a result of it. He had gout as does my father. When my father went off of it he felt much better, but he took something else. I forgot what it was but I'll ask him if you like.

Sorry, don't mean to alarm you.
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