How does one stop compulsive snacking? The traditional health advice is to stop BUYING snacks altogether — if you don’t have snacks around at home or at the office, how can you snack?
Yet ironically, the 101 boxes of chocolate I received over Christmas has actually stopped me from snacking.
Ever since I finished up my lab work and moved on to my current desk-bound job, I’ve developed a compulsive snacking habit. Ever since I’ve moved from cutting up mice and handling carcinogenic chemicals to clicking computer mice and handling soporific documents, I’ve been snacking on chocolates and chips throughout the day.
As a result of my constant stream of FB status updates along the lines of ‘3 M&M packs today. Doomz.’, and as a result of people not knowing what to buy a post-30yr old child for Christmas, 90% of my Christmas presents this year are chocolates. My office stash now rivals Charlie’s Chocolate Factory.
Yet today, I’ve hardly snacked at all.
And come to think of it, it shouldn’t be surprising at all.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with this experiment:
In one landmark experiment, conducted in an upmarket grocery store in California, researchers set up a sampling table with a display of jams. In the first test they offered a tempting array of 24 different jams to taste; on a different day they displayed just six. Shoppers who took part in the sampling were rewarded with a discount voucher to buy any jam of the same brand in the store. It turned out that more shoppers stopped at the display when there were 24 jams. But when it came to buying afterwards, fully 30% of those who stopped at the six-jam table went on to purchase a pot, against merely 3% of those who were faced with the selection of 24. The researchers repeated the experiment with chocolate as well as student essay topics and found similar results. Too much choice, concluded Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark Lepper of Stanford, is demotivating.
(Rehashed & quoted from ‘Tyranny of Choice’ http://www.economist.com/node/17723028
We often try to refrain from buying snacks at all. To do that takes super-human effort, because our natural human impulse is for accumulating sweets and salty stuff. We so often cave in, and buy JUST ONE, telling ourselves it’s OK because its ONLY ONE. Or maybe JUST TWO. And then we snack at our desks, just ONE or TWO packs at a time, but almost continuously.
If we applied this Tyranny of Choice theory, what we can do is to obey our natural human impulse to horde loads of snacks — 57 different types of chocolate cookies — , and pile them all on our office desks. And each day, when we look at that de-motivating pile of snacks, we won’t feel like picking any at all.
Yet what we often do instead, is pile our work into a pile of 57 different work assignments. And we feel de-motivated because the pile is just too damn high. We really need to give our employees only 3 assignment options, let them pick their favourite one to work on at any one time.
So there you go. My little anti-snacking experiment. Try it. Tell me if it works for you. I’m curious ; )