Do you wake up worrying about what to eat, what to drink, what to take, what to wear, what to do later in the day and so on? Today, we have so much information on how to be healthy that it is leading us to have to make too many decisions at key points in the day. The end result? Our health and happiness suffer. When we have more to decide between – we have more chances of making a less good decision or going with no decision at all. And who can blame us? Let’s look at how we can make it easier to do better, more often.
I’m free to do what I want any old time I’m free to do what I want any old time So love me, hold me, love me, hold me I’m free any old time to get what I want
What the Rolling Stones didn’t know is that with freedom and options we can become overwhelmed by them, right?
WRONG. As it turns out. And when it comes to getting and staying healthy, including weight loss, choices really aren’t helping us and here’s why:
A few years ago, a great “diagnosis” was presented that blew the lid off of existing theories and recommendations – after all, variety is the spice of life, right? And “freedom of choice” makes us, well free to make great choices, right?! Well, as it turns out, having choices, lots of them – may actually be the unhealthiest thing for us – especially in the first hour of our days or the last hours of our nights.
“Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car.”
Tim Ferris discussed this further in his great podcast here:
Essentially when we have too many choices, with each decision we make we increase our mind’s fatigue and increase the risk of impulsive decision making – chocolate cake for breakfast, anyone?
As it turns out, us healthcare providers are a) human and b) susceptible to decision fatigue too which can lead to prescriptive preventative advice (ie antibiotics) where not fully indicated – and we know today that unnecessary antibiotic use is to be avoided at all costs.
So what are we to do? Don black all the time, eat oatmeal and drink tea every day, do the same thing at the gym and always go to the gym? Won’t we suffer from boredom? Haven’t experts said that is unhealthy? No, yes, no, yes – ARGH!!!!
Here’s what to take away. Too much of anything isn’t healthy and that includes decisions – so we need to reduce them, especially at key times in the day. Consider the following decision reduction nutrition strategy:
1) Have a morning routine, especially during the week:
Water first, meditation or workout etc, then breakfast – even go all army for a few weeks and assign times to each so you can establish a set routine.
2) Have the same breakfast, almost:
Smoothies can be made from the same base, have the same green and change your fruit weekly. Likewise with oatmeal, top it with different nuts and seeds, even rotate different spices. If you eat eggs with greens then you could do salmon with greens on a different morning etc. Save your ‘wild card’ breakfast for the weekend after you’ve worked out.
3) Don’t add decision fatigue to day-end fatigue:
Have you ever ended up in a drive through or eating a bag of chips after work for dinner before you even realize what was going on?! When we are tired – and that’s what we are supposed to be as our day ends – our body calls the shots when it comes to food it wants, so it will be harder to direct it to better choices. Have your dinner planned, ideally prepped, and have a backup better option in case life happens and you run late or don’t feel like even assembling your better choice.