The Pack Health program is all about nudges, so we were pretty excited last week to see behavioral economist Richard Thaler – the guy who literally wrote the book on Nudge Theory – win the 2017 Nobel prize for economics. In honor of his big win, we wanted to share a bit more about how nudge theory can be used to keep you on track with your health goals.

1. When you get a text from your health advisor

You’d be surprised how often we hear from members that they were about to buy a bag of candy or a cheeseburger when they got a text from their health advisor and were reminded that the choice they were about to make didn’t match up with their goals. Sometimes, you need that nudge!

Whether it’s a health advisor, a friend, or a family member who’s checking in to hold you accountable, those reminders distract you from the easy instant gratification option in front of you, bring health goals back up to the top of your mind. When ads on TV, shiny wrappers, and sales are all nudging you towards that candy bar, you might need a little nudge in the other direction to make a conscious decision that benefits your health.

2. When you set a trigger to reach your goal

It is SO easy to not do things. Why get up and go to the gym when you’re comfy on the couch and Netflix is auto-playing the next episode of your favorite show?!

If your goal is to go to the gym after work, your Health Advisor might recommend keeping your gym bag packed and ready in your car. We call this a trigger because when you see your gym bag ready and waiting you’re triggered to go workout after work. Want to work out in the morning? Put your gym clothes and sneakers in the bathroom, so you’re instantly reminded when you go to brush your teeth.

The psychology is simple. These little nudges remind you of your intention, forcing you to make a conscious decision rather than sliding into an easy, but less healthy, routine.

3. When you clean out your pantry

The foods you’re most likely to eat are the foods you keep close at hand.  Why? They’re easy and visible, which nudges you to pick them.

Try organizing your pantry so that healthy items are easy-access, and unhealthy temptations are in harder-to-reach or less visible locations (for example, an out-of-the-way cupboard, the back of the freezer, or a hard-to-reach top shelf). You’ll be amazed at how much keeping healthy options around – and unhealthy temptations “out of sight, out of mind” – can help you stay on track! More tips on “spring cleaning” for better health here.

We get nudges in the wrong direction all the time, but that doesn’t mean nudge theory can’t be used for good! What’s in your fridge? Would a picture of your motivation or your Pack Health Tiny Step magnet make you more likely to grab carrots instead of cake? These are just a few ways nudge theory helps us help you achieve your health goals.

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