Temptation Bundling

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really enjoy running. I enjoy the way I feel after I run and the feeling of accomplishing something, but I don’t get pleasure out of actually pounding my feet to the pavement. I also hate cleaning my house. I clean on Mondays, since it is already a kind of “bad” day anyway. Why ruin a perfectly good Friday with cleaning, I say. To make running and cleaning more enjoyable, I listen to audiobooks or podcasts. I enjoy listening to these for many reasons: I am at least partially distracted from the task at hand, I learn something, I laugh, or I get something to use as conversation starters. It’s really a win-win.

Turns out, I learned that this is called “temptation bundling” in one of my favorite podcasts, Freakonomics Radio. Apparently, economists have done studies and shown that people are more likely to exercise or to stick to a diet if you bundle this unpleasant activity with something they like. For example, they only let people listen to really addictive audiobooks when at the gym. Gym attendance increased for those people.

I like this idea as a strategy for eating healthy  since it is making positive associations with healthy behaviors.   For example, one of my friends used to get Frosty’s a lot. She wanted to eat healthy and lose weight and knew cutting that out would help. So, each time she wanted to get a Frosty but didn’t, she put that money in a jar. Then she got to use that money to buy herself new clothes. Or maybe you let yourself eat a piece of chocolate after dinner if you eat 2 servings of vegetables. Or if you are craving sweets, you call a good friend and chat instead.

I’d love to hear any of your health-related temptation bundles in the comments.

To hear or read the whole podcast, click here.

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