Monday, May 25, 2015

The 200 Food Decisions We Make Every Day ...



Recently, I came across a study which referred to another study by Brian Wansink of Cornell
University. Wansink had found that we make at least 200 food-related decisions every day and ever since I read that, I wanted to explore it a bit more. When Wansink and his colleague
Jeffrey Sobal asked 139 participants how many food-related decisions they made every day, the average answer was 14. But then the respondents were asked to reconsider the various contexts and circumstances in which they made decisions for a typical meal, snack and drink - time,
company, etc and when these were added up, it showed the participants made an average of 226 food decisions a day, 59 of which related to what kind of food to eat. This lead the researchers to conclude that such gross underestimation pointed to the probability that people often engaged in mindless eating.

I thought it would be interesting to record my own food-related decisions and see if they
numbered that many. I didn't get around to maintaining a diary but I did make an attempt over the last three hours and here's what I came up with. (The figures in brackets at the end of each para are the number of decisions.)

Note: I haven't read the entire study, just gists from various sources online, but I thought it would be fun to list all that I could and see how many food decisions I can come up with.

May 23, 2015

  • Decide to make pappucharu with lesser dal than usual, so that there wouldn't be too much left over. Use up the half of the bottlegourd and two of three carrots that I had bought the previous day. (2)



  • Of the two-and-a-half fistfuls of toor dal that I cooked (above), I set aside some, on the spur of the moment, to mix with the new mango pickle that my mother had sent over. (1)


  • I decide to add coconut to the French bean and broad bean stir-fries that I made. (1)


  • I decide the small amount of oil I had used in them was enough - one spoon each in all the three items. (1)


  • I feel lazy about having to peel the garlic and use it but I go ahead and do it. (1)


  • I decided not to use the curry leaves in the fridge as they had all blackened. (1)


  • I thought of breakfast but didn't do anything about it. I went without breakfast. (1)


  • I had a couple of lychees but realised it was thirst and drank some water. (1)



  • I think about adding ghee to the dal and pickle and rice combination (above) but decide it isn't worth the effort of setting my plate aside, opening the ghee jar, finding the right spoon and adding it. The kitchen is very hot and any time spent out of it, even a minute, is well worth a sacrifice. (1)


  • I add some oil from the pickle to make up for the ghee.(1)


  • Decide to add another bit of pickle knowing quite well that it would be too much, and that it will spoil the taste of the dal-pickle combination. It does. Serves me right. (1)


  • Ate a serving of rice with the beans. (1)


  • I hadn't eaten the pappucharu. I should eat some. But I miraculously decide to stop. I will cool off with some plain curds and beans instead. Shall I have another helping? Hmm? No.(3)



  • I remember to put everything in smaller containers and store it in the fridge.(1)


  • I should remember to take the murukkus to office. A water bottle as well. I put the murukkus in a container and put it in my bag. I decide to rely on the water cooler at work for today because I don't feel like lugging around a second bag that's heavy.(4)


  • I switch on my computer at work and feel like having strawberry gateau or chocolate cake. I toy with the idea of stopping by for some on the way back home later in the day. I am hungry. Within half an hour of coming to work, which is about two hours after lunch, I dip into the murukku container and eat some. (1)


  • I drink copious amounts of water to make sure it all gets flushed out properly when the time comes. (1)


  • Then colleague #1 comes over and eats some of the murukku. I keep her company.(1)


  • We both dip into another colleague's diet potato lacha but we don't eat much, we go off for coffee. (1)


  • At the canteen, the coffee looks too strong to have it sugar-less so I have it with a bit of sugar. (1)


  • I drink most of it. Usually I have only half. (1)


  • I work a bit, thinking of food, recipes and blogging most of the time.


  • Then I tell my colleague who sits next to me, the one with the potato lacha (potato straws), that I desperately want to eat something hot. She offers me the lacha, and I take it, telling her that my BP surprisingly was 140/80 the other day when I went to meet the doctor, and how could it be, I don't have a problem and I shouldn't be having lacha which was quite salty but of course, it was nice because there was an aftertaste of chilli powder.(2)


  • I put some on a paper and snack off it. Colleague #1 comes back and helps herself to some lacha, puts a mountain of it on my paper and we both eat off it.(2)


  • My murukku container has migrated to my colleague's desk in the meantime. I had put it there to offer it to her and others. I retrieve it and finish it off. I drink hot water from the cooler. Then I work steadily, cravings and hunger pangs making themselves felt. I push them away.(2)


  • I leave work at about 8.15 pm, and head for the supermarket. I buy four packets of slim milk. Then two cartons of coconut milk, to replace the two we used up. This brand has a way of disappearing from the shelves for months together. A small tin of condensed milk, simply because I find it. If I don't grab it now, next time I need one I'll have to buy a regular, big one and make more dessert than I want. It can't be stored. (Well, no one needs condensed milk, do they? They only want it. And it's not even as if I make dessert regularly.) (3)


  • I decide not to throw out the Black Forest cake just yet. We had bought it to delight our very young niece who loves cutting cakes, birthday or not. It's been seven days since she cut it, and she didn't show much interest in it herself after the first day. It's five days since she and her parents left to go back home and it's lying in our fridge, untouched. (1)



  • For dinner, I take out the pesarattu batter I've made in the morning. I eat it with some ginger pickle, after some deliberation.  Just one, I tell myself, a large one, and then some rice with the pappucharu (in picture above). I stick to that decision. I eat some curds and broad beans too but I don't feel guilty. I think of another helping but put a lid on it, literally and figuratively.(5)


  • I boil a packet of milk. I wonder whether to chop up a cabbage and store it in the fridge for tomorrow's cooking. Should I add coconut to it or not? Should I look online for a recipe? Something with wedges of cabbage rather than the usual minced? I abandon the idea.(6)


  • Then a friend calls and we discuss death, disease, stones in urine and ... no, the list of unsavoury topics ends there. I stir a smidgeon of curds into the boiled milk so that it will turn into curds for the next day's meal. I feel like chocolate and have a small wedge of almond chocolate. I have a bit more, a square. I think about some more but I kill the thought. Then I polish off some lychees. I guess each fruit is to be counted as a decision. I start counting the seeds to see how many I've consumed but abandon the attempt. It's fruit only, nothing heavy. (12-20)


  • I've forgotten to update my food and fitness app today. It reminded me once, I put it off. I'm going to do it now. I'm very proud to say this is one exercise I've not given up every since I started it a month ago. (1)


  • It's past midnight and I'm typing out this post. Will I have the energy to cook tomorrow or should I simply order in? There's a new restaurant that promises meals of home-cooked quality just around the corner ... (2)


That's about 70 decisions in all. I wonder how much more I have forgotten or overlooked, because I kept remembering things as I was writing this post. I also sincerely believe, though, that like most respondents in that study, probably, that I've been honest about the whole thing. It's like that disclaimer we declare and sign at the end of application forms or declarations: "... these responses are true to the best of my knowledge and belief ..."

Have you ever attempted something like this? Or have you ever maintained a food diary? How did it work for you?

8 comments:

  1. I liked this idea. Shall try it out one of these days. :)

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    Replies
    1. Do, Aparna! I'll be curious to read it.

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  2. Phew! All this goes on in our minds all through the day?! Everyday?!
    All the while all we think of is food! Never thought of it.
    That's a really good compile Sra.

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  3. I was thinking every ingredient of the pappucharu u made (including tempering) were also sub-conscious food decisions and so its not just 2 there, more like 20? Even the water you used to change the consistency of pappu charu, even that would have to be a decision for someone making it for the first time, perhaps! Quite a thought provoking post.

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    Replies
    1. Hi La, yes, if I'd been deliberating on the pappucharu recipe. Like I did about the lychees.

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  4. Hi Sra,
    Interesting post, we do a lot of things without realizing it. Thanks for your wishes on my blog anniversary, the event is still running, you can take part if you are interested.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is so very interesting. I discovered your blog through mad tea party, and am enjoying reading it. I'll be back for more.

    ReplyDelete