You have heard me mention “mindless eating” on more than one occasion. Recently, I came across an article I though was extremely interesting. Maybe it was the title that caught my eye, “Google Study Gets Employees to Stop Eating So Many M&Ms” because you must admit it’s pretty intriguing.
I’m not going to drag you along in suspense wondering exactly how they decided to go about monitoring how many M&M’s the employees were eating. Personally, I had visions of a ration system or someone coming by each desk every day to inventory the employees M&M supply but it was nothing that harsh.
Basically, the folks at Google did their homework (I wonder if they Googled the info…hhmm) and used food psychology to reduce the M&M consumption. Project M&M was launched in order to determine if the amount of M&Ms the employees were eating had any bearing on their productivity and overall happiness. The first step was to discontinue having M&Ms available in open bowls. As we know all too well, it is just so easy to walk past a bowl of something and grab a handful. Open bowls are the enabler of mindless eating. So Google put a lid on it. Literally. They simply removed the bowls and replaced them with jars with lids which immediately decreased the consumption of the sugary snack.
But the nice folks at Google didn’t just want to cut back on the candy munching, they wanted to offer snacks of a healthier option so they went one step further. They decided to use two different types of jars: opaque and glass. They put the M&M’s in opaque jars; still available to the employees who crave them yet a tad less tempting. The glass jars were filled with the yummy goodness of treats such as pistachios and dried fruits.
Did Project M&M actually work? Well, I will let you be the judge. During a 7 week period, in the New York Google office alone, the two thousand employees consumed over 3 million fewer calories from M&Ms. I would call that a rousing success!
The article goes on to say that Google also decided to tackle soda consumption. Did they remove soda from the beverage offerings? No. They simply used the psychology of food to entice people to drink more water. By simply stocking the water at eye level in the refrigerators on transparent shelving and moving the soda options to the bottom opaque shelves, Google increased water consumption by over 45%!!!
Now the question is… how can we mimic the actions of Project M&M in our own lives?
Google didn’t do anything extravagant. They took simple steps to help their employees make better decisions. They didn’t go around and remove all the junk food and shut down all the soda machines. The employees still have access to all the goodies they had before. So before you go throwing out every snack in the house and forcing the husband and kids to eat carrot sticks, why not try it the Google way. A few small changes that align with food psychology may make all the difference in the world. Your family will have the availability of better options without feeling deprived.
I would LOVE to hear how this worked for you. Please tell me in the comments below or better yet, share your story on Facebook.