Steve Jobs was famous for his black turtleneck sweaters. Mark Zuckerberg wears the same gray t-shirt every day. And President Obama only wears blue suits. It’s not because they’re lazy. It’s just that they focus better on the stuff that matters most when they cut out extraneous decisions, like what shirt to wear.
“Think of your willpower like a muscle,” says nutritionist Mike Roussell. “Use it and it will get stronger, but overuse it and it will become fatigued and fail you.” It’s a process called decision fatigue. When our fleeting pool of willpower dries up, we falter and ultimately give in to unhealthy temptations—or bad business and policy choices.
You could wear the same thing every day and hope your coworkers know you do laundry. A more covert option: Eat the same breakfast each morning. Food, in particular, requires a lot of decision making—up to 200 choices a day, according to Brian Wansink of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. “I think that’s on the low side,” says Roussell. “Go to Chipotle and you have to make at least 15 in less than 90 minutes. The average Starbucks offers you 19,000 different drink possibilities.”
Take the decisions out of breakfast. “If you eat a quality breakfast, you’re less likely to eat a lousy lunch as you've already made the effort to eat right. Why blow it?” says Roussell. He recommends aiming for a mix of protein and produce and going light on the sugar. Try making your go-to meal something like eggs and salsa, a protein shake, or a Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit. You’ll reduce decision fatigue and set the stage for a healthier day of eating.