Many of the people I talked with emphasized the stress-reducing benefits of eating the same thing each day. Amanda Respers, a 32-year-old software developer in Newport News, Virginia, once ate a variation on the same home-brought salad (a lettuce, a protein, and a dressing) at work for about a year. She liked the simplicity of the formula, but the streak ended when she and her now-husband, who has more of an appetite for variety, moved in together six years ago. Would she still be eating the salad every day if she hadn’t met him? “Oh heck yeah,” she told me. “It would’ve saved so much time.”
Sharilyn Neidhardt, a photo editor in New York City, once found solace in regularity. About a decade ago, she switched jobs, and her new one stressed her out. “There were phones ringing constantly and there were people yelling all the time,” she recalls. One thing that Neidhardt found soothed her and gave her a measure of control over her day: She picked up a spicy noodle dish called tantanmen from the same ramen restaurant every lunch break. She did this for “a minimum of six months,” after which she got tired of the meal (and its cost) and, perhaps more important, settled into the new job.
Eating the same thing over and over can also simplify the decisions people make about what they put into their bodies.