Are You Stuck in a Food Rut? Here’s Why You Need to Switch It Up.


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are you stuck in a food rut?

It happens to the best of us. You finally figure out a healthy meal or snack that you love (whether for taste, ease or convenience) – and it quickly becomes your “go to” food. So you eat it over and over (and over) again.

Maybe it’s a green smoothie for breakfast, every day. Or sweet potatoes as your healthy starch, with every meal. Or cauliflower as your side dish, with every dinner. And I won’t even mention that little square of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate as a late night, every night treat.

Because therein lies the problem. These nutritionally-dense, healthy foods get you thinking “heck, if it’s good for me, I might as well have more of it!” 

Getting stuck in the food rut

When I first went gluten-free I remember substituting almond flour for wheat flour in everything. I hadn’t yet figured out the nuances of gluten-free baking flours, so almond flour became my easy “go to.” Almond flour pancakes. Almond flour cookies. Almond flour macaroons. You name it, I was eating almond flour. 

That is, until I accidentally OD’d on so much on almond flour that my body revolted by giving me a previously nonexistent food sensitivity to anything almonds. The mere sight of them virtually gave me hives. Which wasn’t pretty. So I promptly removed all almonds from my diet and 6 months later my body’s alert system simmered back down.

Same was true for my lemon water habit in the morning – to detox, alkalize my body and improve digestion. Because that morning lemon water routine quickly turned into morning + lunch + dinner. I was having lemon water all – the – time.

The result? Not only was I racing to go to the bathroom every waking minute (never ideal), but my already sensitive gut started to feel heartburn and increased sensitivity – even when I wasn’t eating.  So I laid off the lemons. And sure enough, my body returned to normal.

Too much of a good thing

Mother nature has a built in device to help us with overdoing it – a little something called seasons. But another little thing, called globalization, has flung seasonal eating right out the window. We now have access to virtually all fruits and vegetables, any time of the year, imported from foreign countries.

Which is great when you’re craving a bowl of fresh, juicy strawberries in the middle of a nor’easter blizzard! But it also unwittingly contributes to our food rut.

If you have food sensitivities or allergies, you have to pay even closer attention to this. Once you start removing ingredients from your food repertoire, your narrower options will have you reaching for the same alternatives. Again and again.

And too much of any one food item can alter your delicate balance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

For instance, spinach is healthy. But spinach every day might increase your level of oxalic acid, contributing to kidney stones. Almonds are healthy in small amounts. But with everyday nut and flour use, almonds become pro-inflammatory in the body and can create gastrointestinal problems. Cauliflower is a great veggie. But eaten in large quantities everyday, it may impact iodine absorption and thyroid function.

I think you get the picture. Spinach, almonds and cauliflower are all good, healthy foods, when eaten in moderation. But when you find yourself habitually eating the same food, each and every day, that’s when you need to switch it up.

Instead of spinach in your smoothie opt for kale or swiss chard. And if you’re constantly reaching for sweet potatoes you might want to give butternut squash a try. There are so many delicious foods with amazing nutrient profiles, try not to play favorites next time you hit up your local farmer’s market or supermarket.

In fact, reach for that odd-looking, lonesome vegetable you’ve never cooked before. You’ll not only vary your nutrient intake, you’ll also be inspired to create a fabulous new dish! 

What are the healthy foods you find yourself reaching for time and again? Need help with an alternative for them? Pop it in the comments below and I’ll help you out!

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. I guess I do have this problem with my smoothie in the morning or afternoon. Need more detox recipes

  2. I love the taste of nuts…any kind. I know they are high in calories. Wish I knew of a good substitute. Do you?
    Enjoy reading your story…I’m also celiac and go GF.

    1. I enjoy veggie sticks with hummus for a tasty snack. :) And glad you enjoyed reading my story!

  3. With me it’s spinach. I really don’t like kale. Really. And spinach is easy – put it in smoothies, add it to my cooked meals, eat it raw in salads. I did try some arugula today, but mixed it with spinach as it was rather strong. I try to mix it up and do cabbage (another favorite), asparagus and green beans. What other greens should I try?

    1. I hear ya on the spinach! You can try romaine, red leaf, collard greens or butter lettuce for salads. While chard, zucchini and baby bok choi are always my faves for a side dish. Hope that helps! :)

  4. Well I have a few “soft spots” there… Frozen blueberries, I’m havin’ a handfull or two at least every other day. And the same with green apples and cucumber… And, yes, eggs of course- not every day, but almost. In one way or another… And my homemade granola with a special brand of natural yoghurt (my gut flora is very happy when I eat it at least every other day). 4 or 5 days a week, but I think its the healthiest option for breakfast at work I have ( and Its oats, flax, chia, pumpkinseeds, melon seeds, almonds and dried goji or cranberries so It at least contains a lot of different nutrients…)