First World Problems – I don’t know what to eat!
I have the hardest time choosing what to eat when we go out. Sometimes, I let my husband order or say that I’ll just have what he’s having.
What are you having for lunch today? Is it going to be North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, Italian, French, Andhra style, Calcutta style, Punjabi, Oriya, Maharashtrian, Japanese, All-American, Tex-Mex, Lebanese, Middle-eastern, Kerala or Mexican?
How about the dinner party tonight? Did you decide on the kind of Biriyani to order? Andhra Style, Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, Mughlai, Malabar Biriyani, Donne Biriyani, Ambur Biriyani, Awadhi, Chettinad or Nati Biriyani?
Or maybe the thought of having to select any of these options is keeping you out of the food delivery websites/ food courts/ malls/ restaurants entirely–you’d rather survive on home cooked food.
The paradox of choice is an all-pervasive aspect of modern urban life: an abundance of choice is not good for us. Choice is supposed to set us free but it ties us up in chains and the act of choosing itself becomes a challenge in the post-Internet world.
The digital marketeer side of me is always curiously researching consumer psychology and online behavior. According to the APA (American Psychological Association), an explosion of consumer choices may mean we sometimes get exactly what we want, too many choices can also overwhelm us to the point where we choose nothing at all, and in the worst-case scenarios, may even erode our well-being.
The downside of excessive choice is that people are either more cautious in choosing or make simple, snap judgments just to avoid the hassle of wading through confusing options. This is probably one of the reasons why some mobile phone brands offer fewer variants.
One suggested coping strategy when dealing with a multitude of simple everyday choices like choosing groceries and ordering food is called ‘satisficing’ – a portmanteau of satisfactory + suffice coined by Nobel Laureate Herb Simon.
‘Satisficing’ refers to the first decent choice that fits your preference as opposed to exhaustively scanning all options until finding the perfect one.
When making high-value purchases, however, study the options, then settle on something you feel good, if not perfectly about, let informed sources like authentic customer reviews choose for you; don’t compare your choices to others’; and don’t wallow in regret.
We eat in on weekdays and reserve eating out for weekends. This way, we get to indulge on our cheat day instead of compensating for all those weekday junk-food calories. I also use an online grocery delivery service. So, no more unnecessarily daunting grocery choices thanks to a smart basket feature and goodbye to serpentine super market queues. Now I use all of the time I saved choosing toothpaste, biscuits, detergent, shampoo, flour, masalas, face wash, cheese etc and nurture the things that really make me happy.