Diabetic decision fatigue

Diabetic decision fatigue

You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.

Barack Obama

The late Steve Jobs didn’t like to waste energy on what he considered to be trivial things. Every day he wore the same black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers. Albert Einstein wore a signature grey suit to work. What can we take away from this? That obsessing in front of the mirror at the start of the day might not be so good for productivity. We know that the more decisions you make, the more exhausted you get. 

Now add diabetes into the mix. According to this clip, the average diabetic makes an extra 300 decisions a day. While this sounds a bit on the high side, there’s no doubt that you’re forced to make a lot more decisions than a non-diabetic. This in turn makes you more likely to suffer from decision fatigue and burn-out. How can it be avoided?

To start with you can restrict your diet. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, I enjoy food a lot more on the ketogenic diet than I used to when I ate everything. There’s an interesting TED-talk by Barry Schwartz on this topic. He points out that while some choice is better than none, more choice is not always better. We live in a society surrounded by so much choice that the net effect is option paralysis. With so many things to choose from it’s difficult to choose at all.

Another thing that happens is that we end up less satisfied than we do when we have fewer options. This comes from our tendency to dwell on a missed opportunity, even when the choice we made is good. By limiting my diet to meat, eggs, dairy, and vegetables I’ve pared down eating decisions, and strangely enough, I enjoy grocery shopping more than I used to. I admit that the occasional sadness hits when Ben and Jerry’s adds a new flavor to their ice-cream range but that’s it. By eating three meals a day with no snacks I’m not constantly thinking about muffins, crumpets, and Reese’s peanut butter cups. It’s liberating to not have food on my mind the way I used to, and it frees up a lot of time to make other choices. 

Good meal routines also make insulin dosing decisions a lot easier. I try to keep the number of carbohydrates and protein consistent from day to day. When my mind is not busy juggling insulin doses and corrections I can focus on other things while avoiding diabetic decision fatigue. It’s a win-win situation.

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