12 Jun An Easier Way to Eat Healthy?
By Joni Garcia MS, RD, Contributing Blogger
In my everyday work, I educate large audiences on the benefits of eating healthy foods. While I love doing this, a new way of teaching nutrition and healthy eating has emerged over the last few years and is gaining momentum. Rather than always preaching the benefits of certain foods, nutrition educators are now looking at the concept of behavioral economics (BE). BE suggests making small changes to our environment to help encourage healthier eating, without having to think too much. Although it may sound a bit technical, keep reading and you’ll see how simple it really is.
What is Behavioral Economics?
Behavioral economics tells us to eliminate barriers to healthy eating and create an environment that makes the healthier choice the easier one. Whether you realize it or not, your environment has a major influence of the food that you eat. While you can’t control what’s on the menu at a restaurant or the foods available at the market, you can control the food we bring into your home. Research shows that access to food and how it looks determines whether or not (and how much of it) we eat.
4 Ways to Eat Healthier
- Keeping healthy food in sight – You’ll automatically eat healthier if you keep healthy foods in plain sight. If you can see the healthy food and don’t have to think about it and look for it, you’re more likely to choose it over something else. Keep fruits and veggies in a bowl on the table or on the main shelf in the fridge.
- The convenience factor – Convenience plays a huge role in your food decisions. It takes the work out of having to cut up fruits and veggies or measure out a serving of hummus. For your convenience, purchase healthy foods pre-cut or pre-washed or spend a few minutes portioning them into smaller packages, so it’s more grab-and-go style.
- Size matters – Keep an eye on the tools you need to eat, like forks, plates, bowls, and containers. The larger they are, the more food you can fit on them and eat. Switch to using smaller plates and utensils, which means you’ll need less food to fill them up.
- Plan ahead – Making decisions on the fly is tough (and even tougher when your stomach is grumbling). Know you’re going out to eat later? Take a glance at the restaurant’s menu online ahead of time and think about what you’ll order. Knowing the healthier options in advance helps keep the impulsive decisions at bay.
Tell Me: What do you do to make the healthier choice the easier choice?