Self help literature is full of advice for living in the moment. But when it comes to shaping better dietary patterns, planning ahead, not choosing in the moment, makes for better eating. If you want to understand why, look to the marketers who devote their careers to understanding how to prompt the impulse to consume.
In the Journal of Marketing Research, Eric VanEpps and colleagues describe how delayed gratification leads to better dietary choices. They conducted a series of studies. The first was a secondary analysis showing that delays between placing and order and picking up a meal predicted fewer calories being ordered.
The second study was an experiment to test whether such delayed gratification was the cause for ordering fewer calories. The study documented a 5% reduction in calories.
In the third study, VanEpps compared lunch orders for truly immediate consumption with advance orders. They found 10% fewer calories ordered when people were ordering in advance.
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Take a look at the food clustered around checkout aisles if you doubt these observations. Candy and snacks are there for immediate consumption, because those are purchases that people make in the moment that they would not otherwise make. Faced with too many immediate choices, people make bad choices.
Advance planning is not everyone’s strength. But it is a skill worth cultivating. It can set you free to enjoy good food that you won’t regret. Recording food and planning ahead in a journal helps enormously.
Instant gratification is often unsatisfying.
Feature courtesy of ConscienHealth
The paper by VanEpps et al is here.