Daily Archives: January 24, 2012

Be choosy about choosing


How many choices have you had to make today?

Two nights ago, against my better judgment and what Oprah has said about snacking past 8 at night, I decided that Garrett’s Chicago Mix Popcorn will make a great late night dessert. I know this blog is meant to talk about healthy and organic way of living, and trust me there isn’t anything remotely healthy about shoving those giant oversized popped corn into your mouth so late at night while watching Ice Age with your family.

But early on when I made the conscious decision to eat healthier, I was also quick to realise that in order to ensure my decision remains sustainable, I would have to adopt the 80/20 rule. Conscious, healthy organic choices 80% of the time, whilst giving myself the 20% break in between to allow myself the not-so-healthy choices to take place so that I can be happy (or at least try to be) 100% of the time with what I eventually choose to nourish me.

Needless to say however, my decision to indulge that night left me with a sugar high that kept me wide awake until 1 in the morning. Choices made against your better judgement are almost always the kind that makes you pay for its consequences doesn’t it?

So to pass the time, I decided to watch and learn something on Ted. I am currently hooked on Ted. It’s like a whole library of youtube that actually makes sense and teaches you something new in less than 20 minutes. My inner geek could not be any more happier.

Sheena Iyengar gave a talk recently on making choosing easier. Sheena Iyengar is one of those people whose academic work conjures a deep respect from me. She’s an expert on choices. Someone who studies the human behaviour and what influences them to choose certain things over others. I first encountered her work through her book published last year entitled The Art of Choosing. If there is one book you want to read this year to help you jumpstart conversations with strangers at dreaded networking events and still come out sounding smart, this book will be it.

In her 16 minutes presentation, she reveals some findings and eventually concludes with a simple advice. Be choosy about choosing.

We all encounter numerous choices to make every day. Some consciously, while others unconsciously driven by habit and what we already know over time. If you actually count the number of decision you had to make today, I am sure you can easily come up with a pretty long list of it. Shall I roll out of bed now or shall I lie in a little longer? Shall I get up and do some yoga or just sit here, eat my breakfast and read the newspapers instead? Shall I buy that organic brown rice instead of the washed white rice, which is probably cheaper anyway? Shall I satisfy my need to be healthy or this darn sweet-tooth right now?

A hundred choices, every single day. And you cannot always get them right every single time. According to Sheena, the more choices you are faced with (like if you are faced with 100 different jam flavors in the supermarket aisle), the more unlikely it is for you to make that choice (to buy a jar of jam).

And I totally get this. With the growing organic business in Malaysia, I still feel like a little kid in a candy store every time I walk into a shop that carries everything and anything organic. I will walk through every single aisle, turn over all the jars, touch and smell the soaps and eventually feeling completely overwhelmed, walk out empty handed totally forgetting that I am only there because I needed to buy a pack of organic rice.

Most people whom I’ve talked to always start with a ‘wanting’ to eat and live healthier lifestlye, but they always say they do not know where to start. Sometimes coming up with excuses can be so much easier than trying to choose from the hundreds different line of organic produce at the supermarket. But a no answer is still an answer. Same goes to choices, choosing not to eat healthier is still a choice made about your eating habit.

So here’s my 2 cents on this – start slowly, allow yourself to make ‘unhealthy’ choices 20% of the time when you’re transitioning (but be prepared to ride out the aftermath like I did!), and research about the food, herb and spices that you are interested in. So many health supplements these days claim to do wonders, but not all can actually live up to their own marketing ploy which is why I totally agree with Sheena when it comes to choosing. Be choosy.