Decision fatigue

Modern American life is full of choices.  Many people make a thousand choices before getting to work, when then commute by car (the longer the commute, the more likely people are to be obese).  Then decisions at work… about the kids… And of course, endless food choices.  The combination of the stress of modern life and the ready availability of fast food to soothe that stress contributes to our obesity problem.  My approach has been to try to reduces my choices as much as possible – which is why I eat the same breakfast every day, and similar lunches and dinners every day.

From the NYT Magazine article:

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. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences

My sister was a Peace Corp volunteer in Kenya.  Another women who worked for me a year doing research had also been a volunteer in Africa.  Both described to me exactly the same phenomenon – coming home from Africa (where my sister ate the same meals – corn meal, greens, beans, some eggs – almost every day) and going to a US supermarket.  Both were so overwhelmed by the choices (OJ with pulp?  without?  vitamin D? which brand?…) that they left the store crying!

For me, a recent stress was the approach of Hurricane Irene while on vacation last week.  Do I stay or leave?  Pack or not?  Tape windows or not? Keep watching Weather Channel and get freaked out, or turn it off?…  With that in mind, our musical selection of the day:

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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