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Nudge Yourself Into Healthier Eating and Weight Loss

Nudge Yourself Into Healthier Eating and Weight Loss

Learn how the amazing power of subtle nudges can change your eating behavior.

Around 45 million people in the U.S. are on a weight-loss diet right now—and have been more than once. And that can be draining physically, emotionally and financially. Americans spend $33 billion a year on weight loss products. Unfortunately, for all that effort, almost 66 percent of you are overweight or obese. But don’t worry: It’s possible to overcome obesity and keep the extra pounds off.

To help you do it, we want to suggest a different approach to the difficulties associated with upgrading your nutrition so you can lose excess weight. We know a lot of what we provide to you is info about what you should or shouldn’t eat, what kind of physical activity to get and how to fit it into your day. Rules, suggestions, pokes and prods. And don’t worry, we’re not going to stop.

However, a French study in Marketing Science looked at the amazing power of subtle nudges—yes, nudges—to change eating behavior and that got us thinking. Seems folks respond very positively to the unconscious power of convenience and are willing to upgrade the healthiness of their eating behaviors when doing so is simply the easiest option.

What kind of nudges work? They’re simple changes in how food options are presented to you and your family. They’re ones that you don’t really have to think about and that naturally nudge you toward making the smart choice. As one researcher said: “Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge; banning junk food does not.”

So, we’ve taken the basic findings of the study and translated them into four simple nudges that can change your eating style, improve your nutrition and boost your weight-loss efforts.

1. Control portion size with new styles of plates and glasses.

  • A 2014 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that plates with wide, colored rims make folks think there is more food on the plate than there is, helping you to better control portion size.
  • Look for “MyPlate” plates (they’re available online) that divide the surface into sections that hold healthy-size portions of veggies, protein, fruit and grains. They’re not just for kids! And for more info on MyPlate check out www.choosemyplate.gov.
  • Yes, large glasses make for healthy servings of water. But if you’re drinking fruit juices or other sweetened beverages, you’ll want to limit your intake until you can wean yourself off of them. Get four-ounce juice glasses instead.

2. Change how you arrange food in the fridge.

In this eat-on-the-run world, you need to make sure the food you grab to go is healthy. One study found 70 percent of drivers eat while driving, and another survey done for Jenny Craig found parents are so busy these days that they eat more than 150 meals a year standing up.

  • Store ripe apples, oranges, plums and pears in the front at eye level.
  • Wash and cut up melons and berries and place in glass storage containers so you can see what’s ready-to-eat. Do that with carrots, celery and bell pepper strips, too.
  • It’s easy to stash veggies in the big bins and forget ‘em. Try putting a couple of vegetables on a shelf every day so you’ll remember to eat/cook them.

3. Put good stuff out for snacking.

4. Let your family—even kids—serve themselves.

  • The “nudge study” found when folks dish up their own food, they make smarter choices for themselves than you would. And that confirms previous research that shows when you choose your own food, your conscience tends to guide you to healthier choices.

We don’t want to be a nudge—but we hope these nudges help you and your kids make healthier lifestyle choices.

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