Like a lot of people, I think advice is a fine thing. I love sharing travel tips, cooking tips or giving recommendations for restaurants in my city. I have a foolproof 5-step method for curing the Sunday Blues, can help you pick a great font for a website and if I’d seen Bridget’s Facebook post, I no doubt would’ve offered my hangover cure (a cup of instant miso before bed, then a big glass of Berocca in the morning, as much water as you can comfortably drink, and five episodes of your favourite TV show). And like any good advice addict, I like getting advice as much as giving it.
But there is such a thing as too much advice. If you ask fifty people which car to buy (and if you have Twitter or Facebook it’s easy to do), you’ll end up with fifty different opinions. So, which one is right? More importantly, which one is right for you? I have been known to get overwhelmed by advice. This happened most recently last week, when it came to the simple issue of deciding what to have for lunch.
That morning, I had seen an Instagram of what someone was about to have for their lunch. Neatly packed rectangles of sandwiches bursting with wholesome-looking ingredients, nestled into a little wooden box. Minimalist, delicious.
I thought, Wow, it’s been ages since I’ve had a good sandwich. I definitely want a sandwich for lunch.
But then I remembered an article I read on a fitness website. “Limit carbs”, it said. “If you have to have them at all, have them early in the day so you have more time to burn them off”. I remembered I had toast with breakfast already. Should I double-down on a no-gym day? Probably not.
So, no sandwich. How about salad? I’d been thinking about doing this “vegan before 6pm” thing that I’d read about on the New York Times. It sounded good, and I was pretty sure my breakfast was vegan. Why not continue as I began, and feel virtuous by dinnertime? But then I remembered the hard-boiled egg I’d had as my mid-morning snack. I’d already failed. I may as well get some more protein.
There’s a Turkish place nearby that does chicken and rice with two choices of salad. Rice is ok, right? A friend of mine eats rice – she’s gone gluten-free and vegetarian and looks fantastic. Maybe I could even get it with felafel, the same way she would. But with hummus, not the chilli sauce. A different friend, who credits her boundless energy with cutting out sugar, says that she stopped putting chilli sauce on everything because of the sugar. But then I remembered the weight-training coach at my gym, who wants me to increase protein and eat Paleo. Rice is a grain, so that’s out for the Paleo diet. Maybe extra felafel and salad, instead of rice. Wait, felafel is made of chickpeas. Okay then. Extra chicken and salad. No rice, no hummus.
They make better salad at the organic place, so I go there. There’s a choice of three – the one that looks the nicest has haloumi in it. I don’t think cheese is Paleo. But it’s probably Primal, which a guy at work does. It’s like Paleo, but you can eat cheese and nuts and he swears by it. So, I order the salad. They’ve changed their pricing structure. There used to be only one size takeaway salad and now there’s three – small, medium and large. The large one used to be the normal one, and it’s now $15 instead of $9. It’s still not very big. I get some some poached chicken on top, no dressing. The chicken is $4 extra.
I walk away, clutching my little paper bag, feeling reasonably confident. Low sugar, high protein, not completely Paleo, but definitely Primal. Gluten free, but not vegan. I’d done my best with the advice given. Then I got back to my desk and realised they’d forgotten the chicken. My lunch was a small $19 salad with no dressing and three tiny pieces of haloumi. I was hungry again within the hour.
Advice is all well and good, but sometimes you just have to say, screw it. Listen to your gut, or your heart, or your brain and figure out what you really want.
Sometimes you just have to get the damn sandwich.