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Avoiding Decision Fatigue with PCOS

I recently sent a survey to all of my email subscribers and I got an overwhelming response. Over 1500 entries that I sifted through. You see, I really want to know what struggles you’re facing and what I can support you with. One of the things that came through really strongly in the survey results is that a lot of us struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle and we tend to fall off the bandwagon frequently. I think a lot of this has to do with decision fatigue with PCOS.

I’ve read many really interesting articles and I think that it applies so well to the lifestyle changes so many of us are trying to make to improve our PCOS symptoms.

So, let’s look at what decision fatigue is and how we can avoid it.

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What is decision fatigue?

Decision fatigue can be defined as: “decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making.” (1)

Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.

It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making.Basically the more decisions we make in a day, the more weary we get and the worse our decisions become. We become mentally drained by all of these decisions and as fatigue sets in, we either become impulsive in our decision making (why yes, I’ll have that chocolate bar – why not?) or we simply do nothing and avoid making a decision at all. And interestingly, decision making and will power are linked. So, the more decision fatigued you are, the weaker your will power. (2)
Let’s apply this to our own situation with PCOS.

Decision Fatigue with PCOS

avoiding-decision-fatigue-with-pcos-decision-fatigueLet’s say that you wake up in the morning and your cravings are already starting. But, instead of eating your milky cereal or drinking a cup of coffee, you resist and have a healthy PCOS friendly smoothie. The same happens for lunch.

By the time dinner rolls around, you realise you have nothing in the fridge or the pantry and you have to shop for supper. Chances are, after using all of your self control making good food decisions the whole day, by the time dinner comes, you have “run out” of motivation and self-control. So you eat whatever you can find, whether it will be helpful for your PCOS or not.

Your decision making ability and will power are at their best in the morning and you should be aware of your will power “battery levels” throughout the day. The good news is that there are some strategies that we can use to avoid decision fatigue and boost our will power so that we are making the best decisions for our PCOS.

Let’s have a look at some of those strategies.

Plan the night before

This will allow you to eliminate decisions throughout the day. Following a meal plan, for example, means that you know what you will be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those decisions are already taken care of for you so you can save your decision making and will power for when you really need it.

Also, be especially mindful of when your cravings normally hit. For me, it is often after dinner, once the children have gone to bed and I can breathe a sigh of relief and settle down to have some of my own time.

Because I am tired and it’s the end of the day, my will power and decision making ability are pretty low and that is when I am most likely to give into my cravings. So, I normally have some dark chocolate on hand, or even some delicious Coconut Honey Treats. I know that I can have 1 or 2 without having a huge impact on my PCOS. I have a plan.

Do the most important things first

Remember we said that our decision making and will power are at their best in the morning, when our “batteries” are still full. So, it would make sense to do the things you struggle with the most first thing in the morning.

What is the most important thing for your PCOS? Eating well? Taking your supplements? Exercising? What are the things that you are struggling to do for your PCOS? Those are the things that you should do first thing in the morning when your will power and motivation are still strong.

Stop hoping and start scheduling

avoiding-decision-fatigue-with-pcos-scheduleInstead of hoping that you will make it through the day without falling off the bandwagon, ensure that you won’t be scheduling things in. So, before you go to bed at night, instead of saying “I will get to the gym tomorrow”. Put it in your diary at the specific time you intend to go. That way, you have a specific scheduled time and that is another decision taken care of.

Or, instead of hoping that you’ll stick to your new way of eating, schedule a trip to the health food store or grocery store and make sure that you have all of the food that you’ll need already stocked in the pantry, ready to go.

If you’re struggling to stay committed, have something to eat

Research has found that having some glucose before making decisions helps to bring focus and clarity and helps to strengthen will power. Now, I’m not suggesting that you go out and eat a whole bar of chocolate. But a healthy PCOS snack (like these Coconut Honey Treats) will help you to tame the craving, as well as strengthen your will power for your next decision.

Simplify your Decisions

As adults, we make 35000 decisions per day, 227 of them about food alone (3). With that many decisions on a daily basis, it’s not surprising we get fatigued. So, one of the ways that we can combat this decision fatigue is to simplify the decisions you make and save your decision making battery and will power for the important ones.

It’s no wonder that many prominent business leaders wear the same style clothes every day (Barrack Obama, Mark Zuckerburger). If you can simplify the most simple of daily decisions,  you will have better decision making capacity for more important decisions.

avoiding decision fatigue with pcos - simplifyAnother way to think of this in terms of PCOS is to look at how many decisions about your PCOS you are faced with. We could literally spend our lives researching new ways to manage PCOS. Is this appetite suppressant worth a try (Not something that I recommend by the way), what about this new form of exercise? Oh and my mom told me that I must take this new herbal supplement that nobody has heard of.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the shear volume of information and therefore decisions we need to make about our PCOS. So, simplify it down. Choose the things that you will stick with (even if it for 3 months at a time to see the results) and use all of your good decision making and will power to stick to it for those 3 months.

If you are not happy with your symptoms after those three months and you want to try something new, then go for it. At least you stuck with something for long enough to know if the results were helpful or not.

So, to summarise.

It is unsurprising that we often feel like we’re falling off the bandwagon with our PCOS when we’re faced with so many decisions on a daily basis that weaken our will power and impair our ability to make good decision.

Thankfully there are some things that we can do.

How to Avoid Decision Fatigue with PCOS

  • Plan the night before
  • Do the most important things first
  • Stop hoping, start scheduling
  • Have something to eat
  • Simplify your decisions

I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts on decision making fatigue with PCOS. Is this something you can relate to and how have you combatted it in your own life?

Leave me a comment below!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

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