If you had to eat the same lunch every day, what food would you choose?
Or, to reframe the question: Would one peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day drive you absolutely insane?
An article by Joe Pinsker published Thursday in The Atlantic explores the wacky world of boring eaters and the myriad reasons behind the monotony: financial, behavioral — some people just like to stick to a routine — and psychological. One source “says she took inspiration from tech moguls such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who essentially automated their own daily attire decisions in the name of reducing cognitive overhead,” Pinsker writes.
In a Guardian article on the same topic from last year, the author asks, “Is it weird to eat the same sandwich for lunch every day?” and cites a 2017 poll that estimates that one in six British people had eaten the same lunch every day for at least two years.
Corby Kummer, a senior editor at The Atlantic and an award-winning food writer, joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio Tuesday to unpack the phenomenon of dull dining, and the psychological impact of Braude’s mother’s choice to make him a Hebrew National salami sandwich every night before bed.
“The most important point [is], you love it,” Kummer said. “You continue to enjoy it, you know exactly the portion you want, you know exactly how to do it. ... It's very relaxing. I think it's great.”
According to Kummer, who also serves as a senior lecturer at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy, eating the same thing actually guards against overeating. “If you vary your diet all the time, you tend not to have a kind of innate sense of portion control,” Kummer said. “So you eat more stuff if you're constantly varying your diet.”
It’s akin to what Kummer describes as the “dangers of the buffet table” — too many options, and a skewed sense of portion control. “That's why, for example, when you're on a cruise ship, you're not only exposed to constant food, you're exposed to different kinds of food,” Kummer said.