How To Make Better Food Decisions
Did you ever wonder why Steve Jobs wore the exact same outfit everyday? Black turtle neck, blue jeans and Dad shoes. Mark Zuckerberg also wears the same T-shirt every single day ever since Facebook started. The reason is simple. It’s one less decision that they have to make every day. By choosing one outfit to wear everyday and not having to consciously choose what they’ll wear they are reducing “Decision fatigue”
Decision fatigue is the result of making too many decisions throughout the day. The more decisions you have to make, the harder it becomes for your brain to make quick and logical choices, which decreases productivity and mental wellness.
Your brain only has a limited amount of “Willpower related decisions” to make in a typical day.
Now, the word willpower can make you think of really challenging decisions regarding food, but really willpower is ANY decision that requires you to say no to anything.
Willpower is used when you bite your tongue when your co-worker says something that aggravates you. Willpower is used when you don’t flip off the guy that cuts you off in traffic because your kid is in the car. Willpower is used when you make ANY decision throughout the day, and the more willpower we use, the less we have as the day goes on.
These high powered CEOs wearing the same outfit everyday, they’re eliminating one decision to save it for later when they are working. We make way more decisions in a typical day than we realize. When people are surveyed on how many food/beverage related decisions they believe they make in a day, the average answer is 15.
People believe they make about 15 food related decisions per day, when in reality the real answer is well over 200 on average.
The reason we don’t realize we’re making these decisions is because they are mainly non-conscious. We don’t realize we’re making them.
Let’s break it down.
Imagine a pretty typical first part of your day, you wake up and get ready for work. You make a decision to drink coffee (1), you make a decision on creamer (2), sugar (3), and you push past all the other foods inside your refrigerator (leftovers, sodas, juice, etc..) to choose what you want (4). You get in the car and drive past Wawa (5), grocery store (6), McDonalds (7), Starbucks (8) and finally get to work. When you walk in, you see a tray of donuts that a customer brought in (9), you walk by the cafeteria without purchasing anything (10), and walk by your co-workers candy jar (11).
By the time you sit down at your desk you’ve already made at LEAST 10 food related decisions and that’s being conservative in this imaginary scenario. You don’t realize your brain is making these decisions, but it is, and every one of these decisions chips away at your internal willpower which will make you less likely to make a smart decision later on. Decision fatigue is the main reason that diets fail. When we restrict so much, that we say “no” to all of our favorite foods then eventually we cave…
The key is to build a lifestyle around having to make fewer decisions… The less decisions you can confront, the more likely you are to stick to a healthier lifestyle and have less cravings and cave on your diet.
Make the decision to avoid Wawa (which will force you to make multiple decisions inside), or take the longer route to work which will help you avoid the fast food and convenience stores on the way, and to keep food/junk out of sight at home.
Lastly, decisions are decisions whether they are food related or not. Any decision you make will draw from the same resource whether it’s the decision to not bite your co-workers head off for missing a deadline, not yelling at your spouse for leaving their dirt laundry on the floor or declining a slide of birthday cake at your staff lunch.
There’s a reason that stress can make people gain weight, and it’s because the more stress we have in our lives, the more willpower it takes to keep our cool.
The people that have the best willpower are the ones who have built a lifestyle that doesn’t make them use it!