I got a bulletin on Linked In about Google employees cutting 3.1 million calories from their diets in a relatively short period. It piqued my curiosity to put it mildly.
The info is from a book written by Laszlo Bock ‘the visionary head of Google’s innovative People Operations,” entitled Work Rules! – Insights from Inside Google.
I was very happy to learn that the giant calorie cut was not a result of draconian rules in the cafeteria. Au contraire.
First of all, in case you didn’t know, Google supplies free meals and snacks to employees.
Second, as Bock points out, “… diet is one of the biggest controllable factors that affect health and longevity in the United States.”
Amen, brother. That’s what this blog here is all about: getting a handle on controllable factors that affect our health and longevity.
“We decided to test three types of intervention: providing information so that people could make better food choices, limiting options to healthy choices, and nudging. Of the three, nudges* were the most effective. Nudging involves subtly changing the structure of the environment without limiting choice,” Bock wrote.
Nudges? Like in wink, wink, nudge nudge?
“Nudging involves subtly changing the structure of the environment without limiting choice,” in Bock’s words.
Here is an example: After measuring the consumption of snacks to create a baseline, they put all the candy in opaque containers. In other words, just a little less visible. It was still there.
What happened? The proportion of total calories from candy fell 30 percent and the fat consumed dropped 40 percent as Googlers opted for granola bars, chips and fruit.
Management moved the experiment to the New York office and after seven weeks, the NY Googlers had eaten 3.1 million fewer calories, or the equivalent of 885 pounds.
So, nudging works … on others. Can we nudge ourselves?
Open your pantry door. Are the chips, candy and sugary cereals right there in the front?
Bock suggests that to lose weight, “Use smaller dishes — in fact, get rid of the big ones! Shuffle your pantry so the popcorn (easy on the butter!) is in front and tuck the chips and cereal behind the dry pasta and cans of tuna. Make it a little harder to grab a handful of chips. Hide the sweetened yogurts and drinks in the drawers of your fridge and put the fruits and veggies right in front. Put the fruit bowl in the middle of the counter. Yes, it’s in the way. That’s the point!
“You’ll be surprised by how different the same place can feel, and how easy it can be to change habits.”
I would be interested in hearing if any of you decide to do some nudging at home or the workplace.