Decisions, Decisions

15 Feb

“Life used to be a lot simpler.”

When I was in my 20’s, this was a common lament of my mother and grandmother, and anyone I considered ‘old’ — in other words, anyone over 35.

Guess what? I caught myself saying the very same thing in the grocery store the other day.

There’s such a thing as too much choice. Too much variety, too many options, too many selections.

yogurtHave you stood in front of the yogurt section of your local grocery store recently? The myriad choices of yogurt available boggles my mind. Light, low fat, fat- free, no sugar added, sugar-free, Balkan, Swiss, Greek, set, stirred, lactose-free, probiotic, prebiotic, enriched, organic, drinkable, tube, frozen, and something called ‘kefir’ — similar to yogurt, but in addition to the bacterial cultures, it’s fermented with yeast. And I haven’t even mentioned the selection of flavors available.

Most people think all these varieties of yogurt are a great thing. But I’m an odd duck, and it stresses me out. Seriously. I get a headache just thinking about it. Life is complicated enough. Does shopping for yogurt have to be this difficult?

Same thing with cereal. You reach for the brand you’re familiar with, but you’re not paying all that much attention because you’re had a bad day and really, how hard is it to buy Special K?

It’s harder than it used to be. There used to be one kind of Special K. Guess how many there are now? Three? Not even close. There’s blueberry, chocolate — YES, chocolate — chocolate strawberry, cinnamon pecan, fruit & yogurt — there’s the yogurt again– lo-fat granola, oats & honey, extra protein, red berries, vanilla almond and ORIGINAL. Eleven different kinds of Special K. Really?

I grabbed what I thought was ORIGINAL Special K and ended up with Red Berry. It was gross. Sorry, Kelloggs, but I was expecting ORIGINAL. If I want berries on my cereal, I’d rather use fresh berries.

On the radio the other day I heard an interesting piece about Decision Fatigue. Yes, there is such a thing, so I’m not as weird as I thought. The very act of having to make too many decisions depletes our ability to make them well. So how do we navigate a world of endless choice?

What about you? Do you find grocery shopping trickier than it used to be? Dragging kids along the grocery aisle, exhausted from a long day at work, thinking about what you need to buy, what you’re going to make for supper … wouldn’t it be nice if there were FEWER choices out there? Or am I crazy?

6 Responses to “Decisions, Decisions”

  1. A. Catherine Noon February 15, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Alvin Toffler talks about this back in the 70’s/80’s in FUTURE SHOCK. I agree with you, it’s a lot harder to make good decisions now because there’s a bunch of garbage out there distracting us. That’s one of the reasons I like stores like Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s, which are the American branches of the German supermarket conglomerate. They have much fewer choices, good food with few additives (though Aldi does have more of the chemically-stuff like flavored cereals and TJ’s has more of the healthy stuff), and better prices. I find a lot of the stuff in regular grocery stores and places like Wal-Mart to be overprocessed crap produced by a food industry more intent on squeezing money out of tired shoppers than feeding people stuff that will keep them healthy.

    • nancyelauzon February 19, 2013 at 8:26 am #

      Amen, sista! You really need to be at your best while you’re shopping, or else you end up with stuff you shouldn’t really be eating 😉

  2. kathleenkaskawrites February 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    You’re not crazy, Nancy. It takes me 10 minutes to locate “plain” yogurt among the plethora of flavors.

  3. 4amWriter February 18, 2013 at 4:49 am #

    I went out to breakfast with my nephew and his German wife. She was so overwhelmed trying to order a bagel sandwich that she gave up–she couldn’t get over having to choose the kind of bagel, kind of cheese, kind of meat, which side order. She explained that in Germany, they don’t have the abundant choices that we do. It was an interesting glimpse into how ‘too much’ can be crippling.

    • nancyelauzon February 19, 2013 at 8:30 am #

      I know, plus you’re hungry, so that makes it harder to think. Ordering from Panera Bread restaurants is overwhelming the first time, too. We don’t have those up there, and we go whenever we’re in the states. We really enjoy the food, but you have to bring your ‘A’ game, LOL.

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