Google is widely famous for the perks it gives to its employees. These perks include free and limitless options of restaurants and cafes on its campus. Not just restaurants, Google gives its employees several snacks stations all around its offices. No Google employee is ever more than 150 feet away from some kind of a food station at their office.
This led to a constant increase in the weight of Google’s employees. Unhealthy choices of snacks were slowly stacking up, adding around a pound of fat every year. This is a major problem because a few extra pounds are okay, but an unhealthy lifestyle with bad food choices can cost us in the form of diseases like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, etc.
So, what did Google do? Here are some clever and subtle health hacks that Google used, that you can follow, too, to improve your own food habits and health.
1. Smaller Plates
All plates in the buffet line for Google employees are smaller. They’re only eight to ten inches wide, lesser than the usual twelve inches wide plates that were available earlier. This efficiently reduced the portion sizes without any extra effort.
Keeping smaller plates in our own kitchen can effectively monitor our portion sizes too.
2. Changing the Order of Food.
The salad bar and vegetables became the first thing in the buffet line as soon as the employees entered. When we are hungry, we tend to eat the food that we see first. This way, employees filled more of their plate with vegetables, and by the time they reached the meat and dessert sections, they didn’t have a lot of space left on their plates.
In just a month, the consumption of vegetables by Google employees increased by 2/3rd times than before. And also started selling 2300 breakfast salads in just two years, which were at 0 before.
We can adopt this health hack in our lives by placing our fruits and vegetables on the front racks in our fridge and not hidden away in the bottom drawer! Filling your stomach with vegetables before other food is a nice way to keep a healthy diet.
3. Water was made the easy choice.
Google installed chilled “Spa Water” canisters everywhere around their offices. This water, bubbling with strawberries, lemon and cucumbers, made water consumption an easy and attractive choice.
Sodas and other sugary drinks were move to more distant places. They were not removed, as Google believes that people should be able to make their own choice. They were just kept out of sight and harder to access.
This way, water became the most attractive, accessible and the easiest choice to make for employees. Water consumption drastically increased.
Whenever you feel like drinking a sugary soda, tell yourself to drink a glass of water first. And check, are you still craving that soda?
4. Reduced Unhealthy Snacking.
The coffee machine and the snack station which had stuff like cookies, chips, candy, etc. were only at a mere distance of 6.5 feet. When the Google employees came to get a coffee, they also grabbed a snack along with it.
This distance was now increased. The snack station was kept at a distance of 17 feet from the coffee machine. This increase in 5-6 steps made a huge difference. This health hack reduced snacking by 23% for men and 17% for women.
Often, we don’t realize how much we are snacking in between meals, and that too on unhealthy foods. Keeping them farther away from us can be a good option.
5. Reducing Junk Food.
Earlier, different chocolates and candy were kept in clear glass candy jars, showcasing those delicious and colourful options of sweets. This meant that even if someone did not think of eating them, they’d be reminded to eat candy because of their clear display.
To stop this, unhealthy snacks like candy were now kept in opaque jars. This might not seem like a trivial difference, but keeping snacks out of sight also reduces the craving for them.
We tend to crave such snacks when they’re lying in plain sight. Several studies have shown that given an attractive prompt to act (seeing a chocolate bar) and convenient access to it (keeping it somewhere close to you), will encourage you to eat more.
For example, you’re more likely to eat that bag of Lays if its right at your bedside table, versus if it was hidden away at the back of your kitchen cupboard (or not kept at home at all). Keeping fresh fruits in plain sight can be a better move.
Behavioural studies have shown that more often than not, we take the easier path and make the easier choice in our usual routine.
If something is harder to do, you’ll be resistant to do it. This can be used for better or for worse.
To make a healthy change in your life, you only have to make THE HEALTHY CHOICE= THE EASY CHOICE. Simply put, if you want to do more of something, make it easier to do so; be it food or any other habit. These health hacks are easy to do and make a change.
Google used this exact technique through these health hacks. They made vegetables and fruits and water an easy choice to make. And the unhealthy options were places with resistance, so the employees were unlikely to make that choice.
Subtly rearranging our environment can nudge us into walking the path towards our desired goal—a healthy lifestyle. Making huge changes to our lifestyle can be hard and challenging. Failure to do so can often discourage us from continuing and we often end up giving up because we set out goals too high. These small health hacks, however small they might seem, can still make drastic changes in our health. They can effectively encourage you to slowly better your life.