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How Does Nutrition Affect Decision Making?

by Quantify Fitness | Last Updated:  March 24, 2018

This excerpt from the book, Thinking Fast and Slow, is a good example of how your energy being drained can result in poor or sloppy decision making. When you consider the things that can negatively impact your energy levels like poor nutrition, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and bad sleep habits, it really makes you think about some of the hidden costs of the current health crisis: productivity at work, relationships, grades, etc…

The media always talks about poor health in terms of healthcare costs, but if companies could really grasp the economic and productivity costs, they would probably quit stocking their vending machines with shitty food. What would happen to student grades and their ability to learn if we quit putting sugary drinks like chocolate milk, strawberry milk, and fruit juice in the school cafeteria?

The evidence also continues to mount about the importance of healthy fats in the diet. You need healthy fats for your cells to function, certain vitamins to be absorbed, and for your brain to work optimally, yet there's nothing on the government dietary recommendation about healthy fats.

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If you need help, find a good doctor that has real knowledge and isn't still regurgitating what they learned in their 3 hours of nutrition class over a decade ago. Our favorite doctors that fit the bill are Dr. Mark Hyman at the Cleveland Clinic (a practicing physician and author of numerous books including Eat Fat, Get Thin and Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?), Dr. Cate Shanahan (a family physician, an expert in biochemistry and genetics, and author of Deep Nutrition), and Dr. Ken Berry (a family physician that is waging a war on obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, and author of Lies My Doctor Told Me).

Blinkist excerpt from the book, Thinking Fast and Slow…

The lazy mind: how laziness can lead to errors and affect our intelligence.

…try solving this famous bat-and-ball problem:

A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs one dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

The price that most likely came to your mind, $0.10, is a result of the intuitive and automatic System 1, and it’s wrong! Take a second and do the math now.

Do you see your mistake? The correct answer is $0.05.

What happened was that your impulsive System 1 took control and automatically answered by relying on intuition. But it answered too fast.

Usually, when faced with a situation it can’t comprehend, System 1 calls on System 2 to work out the problem, but in the bat-and-ball problem, System 1 is tricked. It perceives the problem as simpler than it is and incorrectly assumes it can handle it on its own.

The issue the bat-and-ball problem exposes is our innate mental laziness. When we use our brains, we tend to use the minimum amount of energy possible for each task. This is known as the law of least effort. Because checking the answer with System 2 would use more energy, our mind won’t do it when it thinks it can just get by with System 1.

This laziness is unfortunate because using System 2 is an important aspect of our intelligence. Research shows that practicing System–2 tasks, like focus and self-control, leads to higher intelligence scores. The bat-and-ball problem illustrates this, as our minds could have checked the answer by using System 2 and thereby avoided making this common error.

By being lazy and avoiding using System 2, our mind is limiting the strength of our intelligence.

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