How Decision Fatigue is Damaging Your Diet

It seems a wonderful thing to live in a world where we’re spoilt for choice. And we are, in so many areas of our lives today as consumers. Yet, you’ve probably heard yourself frustratedly say, “No, you choose,” or circled a market’s food stalls and, overwhelmed with options, resorted to picking that croissant you swore you weren’t going to have given your new carb-conscious diet. You’re not alone. As humans, our sophisticated ability to choose is tiring and costly to our sense of control. The very act of choosing consumes mental energy. The more decisions we have to make, the worse our judgement becomes.

This phenomenon is called Decision Fatigue. A New York Times article puts it like this, “The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts… One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences.”

 

Choices Clouding Our Minds In The Supermarket

We touched on this in our podcast episode with economics expert Rowan Spazzoli. Referencing Freakonomics, he brought up the example of supermarkets laying out produce in an intentional order, knowing very well that shoppers experience decision fatigue.

The fresh fruit and vegetables at the entrance of a store aren’t necessarily there to promote health, as one might optimistically assume. They’re usually followed by all your other essentials. So, by the time you get to the snacks and chocolates aisle you’re drained from decision-making and likely to throw a bag or two of Chuckles into your trolley. Why? Not because they they were on your list, but because, Come on! You deserve them after meticulously analysing and comparing every fruit, vegetable and dairy product; reading the labels on seven sorts of bread and deciding which avocados are most likely to be buttery and ripe.

 

Decision Fatigue Means You’re Faced With Less Self-Control

 

One thought-provoking research paper explores how decision fatigue exhausts our ability to self-regulate. It defines self-regulation as “the self exerting control to change its own responses in an attempt to pursue goals and standards.” In a supermarket setting, ‘the self’ is likely exerting a great deal of control at every turn. Responding with restraint again and again depletes one’s resources of willpower and restraint. The consequence? Feeling guilty after succumbing to a lack of self-control and making somewhat of a thoughtless decision.

The same research paper also looks at how choices come with the burden of responsibility. Often we’d rather not have to make our own decisions for fear of making the wrong one and having to deal with its consequences. We’d like to think someone who knows better than us about health is making good decisions on our behalf, and when we’re recommended or urged to buy certain products that it’s in our best interest. We’d like to trust that suppliers and regulators of food products are providing us with safe and straightforward options; that what we see is what we get. But integrity is often clouded by the drive to profit off of susceptible shoppers.

 

e-Commerce and Controlling Our Choices

Another paper described our world of consumer hyperchoice as comprising “an ever-increasing amount of buying, amidst an ever-increasing amount of purchase options, amidst an ever-increasing amount of stress, amidst an ever-decreasing amount of discretionary time.”

Weary from walking through supermarkets, draining our decision-making ability with the unprecedented array of goods on display, we’re also more strapped for time. This means convenience is key, and a stress-free environment seems essential to succeed.

Grocery e-commerce presents an interesting solution. You may be thinking, surely an online offering only presents more tiring choices? I mean, take UberEATS for example. You open the app with good intentions, planning to order a hearty salad… possibly a smoothie too. Then you begin scrolling through endless menus and every cuisine. You’re confronted with deals on burgers, your favourite Italian restaurant that’s just started delivering… Temptation is rife online. But that’s where digital innovation by consumer-centric companies stands out – platforms that elevate the usual e-commerce experience with the shoppers’ goals in mind. Although online facilitates more offerings, this doesn’t have to mean more noise.

Shopping is exhausting, especially now we’re faced with more decisions than ever before. We don’t have the time or energy to decipher the label of every product and ensure we’re making thoughtful decisions. You can discover products on our Knowit platform according to parameters intentionally set to suit you, which filter out products you don’t want to be confronted with. Thoughtful technology that’s done the deciphering for you shares the responsibility you were once burdened with. Choices are made simpler by only seeing items that fit your dietary desires. This way, you can’t make the wrong decision.

5 Ways Grocery e-Commerce Is Conducive To Healthy Eating

Shopping has become significantly more stressful. Hindered by masks and long queues, having temperatures taken, sanitiser sprayed, and all the while trying to remain socially distanced, we’re instructed to get in and out of stores quickly. But buying food shouldn’t be rushed. Hurriedly getting groceries leads to snap decisions not conducive to your dietary goals. It also almost always results in disappointment.

 

You get home to realise you completely forgot the walnuts for the salad you had in mind for dinner. And to add to that, olive oil! You knew you should’ve taken your list… looks like you’ll be ordering in instead. Which leads us to our reasons e-commerce can be conducive to your diet:

 

  1. Fewer missing ingredients that throw us off course.

    Often we resort to ordering meals that aren’t as clean as those made at home because we don’t have the exact ingredients at hand to put together what we feel like. Online, the moment you realise you need a certain item, you add it to your list and can order it conveniently. Your shop can be assisted by AI recommenders – like we’re building at Knowitworld – that’ll suggest products you need . The result is a more organised pantry and fridge, with comprehensive ingredients catered to your diet and personal preferences.

 

  1. Avoiding the maze of marketing ploys in supermarkets can take away temptation.

    Groceries constitute a business, and that means they’re marketed to generate as much income as possible for brands and retailers. From the moment you step into a grocery store, each element of the layout has been intentionally designed to make you spend more. As you navigate yourself around the store to find the items you need, you’re confronted with nonessential items – usually tempting treats you’re trying to avoid – at every turn. Even when you think you’re done, the till queue is lined with snacks likely to lead your calorie count into excess. With online platforms, such as Knowit’s upcoming one, you can filter your product search to refrain from seeing the foods you battle to resist.

 

  1. The cardinal law of never shopping with an empty stomach.

    We all know it’s dangerous to go to the shops hungry. Everything looks good, and our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs – or as least bigger than we’d like them to be. But it isn’t always convenient or possible to do our grocery shop when we’re feeling satisfied. Often we dash to the shops just before they close, our bodies eagerly anticipating dinner. E-commerce is always open. You can do your shop at a time you’re not vulnerable to breaking your diet.

 

  1. Fatigue leads to unfit dietary decisions.

    Flustered already from a long day of decision-making, when it comes time to choose between products our mind doesn’t quite have the capacity to enforce willpower. It’s a real phenomenon called Decision Fatigue. With e-commerce, you can make decisions at your own pace and in your own time. Fit shopping around your schedule, instead of the other way around.

 

  1. Information in an instant.

    Pushing a trolley, vision obscured by your mask, is an inopportune moment to pick up products and compare nutritional information, possibly juggling your phone too as you google whether the ingredients suit your new diet. Shopping online removes this chaos and allows you to easily engage with the contents of each product, ensuring they’re conducive to your eating goals. 

 

At a time when being healthy is especially essential, shopping within the pandemic protocols have us frustrated, overburdened and ready to go home by the time we set foot in the store. Purchasing food should be done thoughtfully, at the right time and with the necessary focus.

In the comfort of our home or office, we’re more in control with a calmer mindset. We’re less likely to forget important items and able to understand the contents of what we’re purchasing with convenient ease. Grocery e-commerce provides just this, and is constantly developing to meet our nuanced and on-demand requirements.