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How much choice is a good thing?

Posted: Mar 05 2015

Photo credit: Hilary Clifford

 

Ever walk down a grocery aisle to see hundreds of different cereal brands and types -- gluten free, raw, organic, local, paleo, etc -- and make no decision at all?

 

In this day & age, the plethora of choices makes us stop in our tracks, pull out our phones and after reading countless reviews, its like hands-up-can't-do-this.  Too many choices exhaust us, make us unhappy and lead us to sometimes abscond from making a decision all together.  Researcher Barry Schwartz calls this "choice overload." And it's not just insignificant details like what version of Whole Grain Cheerios to eat -- having too many choices in our creative and professional lives can lead us to avoid making important decisions especially when it comes to our health.

 

We ask Ashley Koff RD (we love her tagline "better nutrition, simplified") on 3 tips & tricks on how to actually make decisions that are right for us, especially during the busy M-F work week when hey, sometimes we're too busy to leave our desks to grab a nutritious lunch:

 

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) Don’t have the same breakfast but reduce your choices

If you do smoothies that include fruit, you can change up the fruit kind for variety, even rotate different spices to match the fruit, and the same goes for your greens BUT have those items pre-determined (ie is it a blueberry ginger spinach day or a mango cinnamon kale day etc).   Save your ‘wild card’ breakfast for the weekend after you’ve worked out.

 

3) Don’t add decision fatigue to day-end fatigue

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 / nutrient choices.  Create a routine from their mid-afternoon nutrition pit-stop (having one and having it be nutrient-balanced is key!) through to bed.  Keep veggies with hummus in the fridge, water available to drink, change your walk home to stop for a juice.  Now this seems restrictive but on a Monday evening, it can de-stress and create space for other important things in your life, like work and family.

 

Net net, we need to rethink what “freedom” really is – and as it turns out, the fewer choices we have, the fewer decisions we have to make, the freer from stress we actually become.  Trust your gut -- you know what's best after all.
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