Overloaded: Daily Food & Meal Decisions


When making choices surrounding food, an individual makes EACH of these decisions a minimum of 3 times a day, if not more:

Am I going to eat?  

When will I eat?  

How much will I eat?  

Who will I eat with?  

Where will I eat? 

Why am I eating?

Over the course of the day, this is close to 16+ decisions regarding meals BEFORE a decision about WHAT will be eaten is made.  This number begins to multiply even more, if a minimum of 3-different foods are eaten at each meal 3-times a day.  Therefore, it can be estimated that an individual makes at least ~25-30 food decisions a day, not even including beverage intake or preparation of meals for others (i.e. packing kids’ lunches for school or ensuring they can purchase food at school).  If an individual makes an average of ~25-food decisions a day, that is about 1-food decision per hour.

Regardless of numbers, the point is that food decisions are constantly being made throughout the day; but it is the part of everyday life that is planned for the least.  Even though these food and meal decisions are necessary, most struggle to intentionally plan or anticipate food choices to fuel and nourish their bodies on a daily basis.

To make things even more complicated; label claims, diet terminology, pop culture trends, media articles, news stories, and anecdotal evidence make deciding WHAT we are eating within these questions of HOW to eat very complicated.  No wonder why thoughts of doubt creep into the decision-making process! 

By acknowledging how many different food related decisions are made on a daily basis, it becomes clear that making food choices and meal decisions can be subtlety overwhelming, especially if not planned, intentional, mindful, or anticipated.

With that being said – My primary purpose as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) is that I want to reassure and simplify meal planning and food choices for everyone.  I am constantly reassuring people that we have made nutrition a lot more complicated than it needs to be – than it should be.  I am constantly trying to quiet the doubt related to food choices.

Often, food and meal choices can be simplified by planning on HOW we are going to eat and avoid focusing on all the information about what not to eat.  Being overwhelmed on a daily basis can be minimized by developing a foundation of strong food habits.  Regardless of food choices or dietary needs, the following food habits are necessary before even deciding what to eat. 


Here are the top food and health habits to adopt for a lifetime:

  1. Start your day with a breakfast that has a good protein source (20-30 grams).  Have protein at all eating opportunities.
  2. Eat a minimum of 3-meals per day – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  As possible, eat small meals and snacks ~4-hours to provide optimal fuel and nutrition for your body.
  3. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake – try to have one fruit and one veggie at each meal.  This will provide a minimum of 6-fruits and vegetable servings per day.
  4. Drink more water.
  5. Minimize sugar-sweetened beverages.  Reduce intake of concentrated sweets.  Enjoy and savor sweet treats in moderation.
  6. Be consistent from day-to-day in both meal size AND meal times.  Our bodies are creatures of habit, it likes getting the same amount of sleep from night to night, it also likes eating about the same times each day.  Eating a lot one day, and eating very little the next day.
  7. Quit up-sizing or share meals with others.  Re-learn what a “normal” portion size is.
  8. Just move.  Current recommendations are for a minimum of 150-minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity.  However, if this seems like a loft goal or time just doesn’t allow for that, just move, every step does count and help.

At the end of the day, if a good foundation for healthy eating habits exists, it will become easier to plan and anticipate meal and food choices and filter through all the dietary claims present in our environment. By focusing on HOW to eat, self-confidence in WHAT is being eaten will naturally follow, I promise.  We try to simplify so many areas of our lives, we want to minimize the drama in our lives… why not simplify and remove the drama surrounding nutrition information in your life, too?  Let’s just focus on healthy eating habits to start. 



We can help!  Learn about our LEAN Freedom Wellness Program where you are guided by one of our certified wellness dietitians to achieve your wellness goals.  Virtual and in-person visits are booking up now.

You Might Also Like

Color Your Lunch & Dinner: Ideas, Tips & Resources

When you have to go, you have to go! Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week December 1-7

Kid-Friendly Pirate Stew [Recipe]