Bribes for health?

From a recent visit to Sea World.  I doubt this sea lion would keep performing without his rewards.
From a recent visit to Sea World. I doubt this sea lion would keep performing without his rewards.

A recent Freakonomics radio episode discussed the importance of incentives for people to make healthier eating choices.  Studies indicate that educating people on the benefits of healthy eating is not enough; an incentive or “bribe” is necessary for actually making a change.

With my limited financial resources, I cannot bribe any of you to make a change in your diet.  I can only provide you with information on how to make healthier choices.  Taking the step to change is definitely up to you.

But I agree with the economists from the radio show – incentives are important.  Future health and well-being are not the best motivators for making healthy choices right now.  Here are some ideas for more immediate incentives you can use to help yourself make a diet change.

–  Save money on each day that you make a healthy choice.  Treat yourself to a concert, play, sporting event, or other activity you enjoy.

–  Indulge in something else that makes you feel good, such as a makeover, spa day, or professional shave.

–  Set a short-term weight loss goal, and buy yourself some new clothes when you reach them.

–  Try a biggest loser competition with friends or family.  Paying money for not making good choices works for some people.

I would recommend avoiding any food incentives.  Many of us over-indulge when we eat our reward food and negate most of the good choices we made.  Besides, food is what we eat because we need to survive.  While we can enjoy what we eat, we need to take out the extra emotional baggage of eating – “I earned dessert”, etc.

Hope these tips help incentivize your healthy choices!  If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments.

To learn more about the original Freakonomics episode, click here.

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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