What causes traffic jams, we’ve learned, is the same thing that keeps you from eating healthy. Here’s how to beat it.
Basically, it doesn’t matter how many roads you build. Traffic congestion in a city will stay the same regardless what you do. If there are roads, more people will drive on them. If there aren’t, they’ll pick other forms of transportation or just stay home.
Ever gone to the grocery store to stock up thinking you’ll be set for ages, only to find you run out again faster than you expected? Personally, I have this problem with ice cream. I’ll buy a gallon of it thinking I can ration it out and use it over the course of a month. Instead, it’s gone by the next week. Whoops.
You’d think if a street with two lanes was always in gridlock, adding lanes would fix the problem. It doesn’t. Instead, the street becomes more attractive and, pretty soon, more cars drive on it. Back to square one.
The same thing happens when I buy ice cream. I think to myself, “I ate that pint pretty quickly. I’ll get a gallon this time and it’ll last 8 times as long.” Wishful thinking! Having more ice cream just makes me want it more, and I end up eating it faster and faster. The only thing to snap me back to sanity is the realization I’ve dropped another loop on my belt.
Your economic brain will try to stop you. It’ll say, “Buy the bigger one; it’s cheaper and will last longer.” But now you know better. You can safely buy the smaller one (or none at all). And plenty of research proves having a biteof something sweet is just as satisfying as stuffing piles of it down your face.
If you have the habit of eating fast food because it’s easy and accessible on the way home from work, try changing your route home instead of directly confronting the golden arches. With less fast food available, your demand for it will also fall.
You get hungry every day, but what you choose to eat will depend on what’s easy to grab. If there’s less TV dinner and more fresh meats and vegetables, you’ll eat those instead. No beer in the house means you’ll only drink it when you go out instead of with every meal.
Your brain has many functions to it, and one is to regulate your economics. The guilt of watching good foods spoil as you fill yourself with bad foods will eventually force you to re-evaluate your choices and do the economical thing: eat your vegetables! Instant willpower not required.
Trust your brain to do the right thing when you put the right choices in front of it!
If you have a bad eating habit you want to break—or a good one you want to reinforce—you can harness the power of induced demand in the next 10 minutes to help you along the way.
First, pick something you want to eat less of, and find a way to limit your ability to reach it. Then, pick something you want to eat more of, and find a way to make sure it’s always available. That takes just a moment of planning and action, and it gives your brain what it needs to make the best choices once your habits take over and put you on autopilot.
Hat tip to Steve Kamb for inspiring me to think about my health a little more.