How Do You Decide What to Eat?

I knew I could be indecisive about food, but until yesterday I didn’t quite understand just how many factors I consider when deciding what to eat and how it can cause cognitive overload.

I was halfway through my weekly Facebook Live video chat with Stonemaier Games fans (see timestamped video below) when I got a text from Megan. She was stopping by Whole Foods and offered to pick up something for lunch. Did I want anything?

What could have been a simple question/answer turned into an ongoing process of indecisiveness on live video. After it was over with, I wrote down some of the things I consider when I think about food questions like this. Here’s my list:

  • How recently did I eat that type of food? I love sushi and pizza, the two main pre-made dishes I get at Whole Foods, but I’d eaten both of them recently.
  • Was I planning to eat that type of food in the near future? Same element of dietary diversity as above.
  • What was I already planning to eat? I try to consider my level of excitement for my planned meal versus the new options.
  • Are there perishable foods in the fridge that I should eat? I love leftovers, so this is often the case.
  • What do other people want? This doesn’t always impact the decision, but if dinner plans are wide open, I want to take my dining partners into consideration.
  • What am I craving now? Sometimes I have intense immediate cravings, but not all the time.
  • How hungry am I? The size of the proposed meal matters.
  • How does it fit into my diet? I typically eat a hearty salad for one meal a day and a more robust meal for the other–I try to
  • What is the timing? I eat on a very regular schedule, so if an unexpected food option differs vastly from that, I may not consider it.
  • Is this my one chance to get it? Perhaps there’s a special just for that day, or the food is being picked up from an area of St. Louis I rarely visit.
  • Is today the best day to eat this food? Whole Foods has a Friday special on pizza, so it’s more economically viable to get it that day. And for some other dishes–like sushi–the fish may be fresher some days than others.

So, while trying to think through all of these factors, my brain basically froze. Now I know better than to make such decisions on live video!

What factors do you consider when deciding your next meal (or when someone offers to pick up lunch for you somewhere)?

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