"We almost always have choices, and the better the choice, the more we will be in control of our lives."   William Glasser

Choices are complex. Choices are simple. Choices are irresponsible. Choices are impulsive. Choices are deliberate. Choices are designed. Let's see how and what can be done when we are about to choose. Choice architecture helps us make better choices. Also helps in reducing the amount of strain on our thinking.

Choice architecture refers to how our environment is designed to influence the choices we make. Today when you are bombarded with choices. You are about to take action, you can make changes to design an environment for yourself. I am not talking about a City here, but your food tray, your refrigerator, kitchen cabinets and maybe office food plate. A few minor changes that can have a long psychological impact in weight management. 

Three principles according to Richard Thaler* are important when it comes to design choices. 

  1. First one is to establish defaults. Defaults are the path of least resistance where you don't have to think much before taking action. 
  2. The second principle is an expected error. Human beings are designed to make mistakes. 
  3. The third one is giving feedback. Let's look at some strategies in action that can reinforce food choices. 

Strategy 1- Shift those labels

"I live bigger than your labels." Samantha N.

One of the hurdles in thoughts that stop us reducing weight is our labels you stick to yourself. Choice architecture has interesting solutions, shift those labels to junk food. Yep, a simple red label for food you plan to avoid can be very helpful. Label green for the food that's healthy. It's that simple and over the time it will become a default path to pick the food with a green sticker. 

As a second principle says expect to fail. You are human. Take feedback on the third stage. Accordingly, change the size of labels, etc. Once you are on it there will be number of possibilities.

Strategist 2 -Make an individual design style

“To understand or predict what a rat will learn to do in a maze, one has to know both the rat and the maze” Hobart Mowrer 

Choices have to be custom made, it's no one shoe fits all. One has to make a different design according to your behaviour. Styles might be in choosing your diets. Choosing diets in moderation. Extremes fail. Many people go for extreme diets which are not their style and can't continue for a long time. Choose one that fits you. Choose food that suits you. Make a plan that works. Again apply the 3 Principles. See if it is the path of least resistance. Be ok about failing in beginning. Focus on feedback and make changes to your diet. "A diet has to be compatible for a Lifestyle not for a month."

Strategy 3 - Placement

"Location, location, location." Real estate mantra.

Well, how true this is from real estate to your kitchen cabinets. There will be times when you and the others who stay may be on very different pathways about food habits. You don't expect the world to help you generously to achieve results. In fact, people unknowing will add more stuff to your thoughts that trigger distress. So a chips packet goes on the back in kitchen cabinets. Make it a rule that things that do fit in your plan keep them at a distance. The location of these things may seem an absurd idea, but out of sight is to some extent will be out of mind. There is no point in fighting with your loved ones. Why they must not eat things that make you fat? Also, distancing can help you how we tend to have junk in a roadside stall. One therapist suggested how one can change the route that has less number of food stalls can stop one from eating junk. Take the path of least resistance. Make it your path. Be ok about failing. And act on the feedback. 

Management of thoughts related to diet and choices can make a huge difference. Use these. Figure out the path.  Don't worry that they are too easy or tough. There will be slips. Fail forward. Work on feedback. These are only 3 strategies, you can come up with more and accordingly implement them. Share with us your ideas and results.

Reference -*Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness.

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