A diet based on behaviour

A what?  

Well, first things first, I'm not a nutritionist.  Is that a bit of a problem when it comes to advising people on how to lose weight?  My wife thinks I'm mad for trying, but then the nutritionists haven't exactly made a brilliant job of it so far - it's estimated that over 80% of diets fail.  But it's not their fault.  Despite a few arguments they've had between themselves, nutritionists have been fairly straightforward when it comes to diet advice.  You know, eat lots of fruit and veg and go easy on the doughnuts.

 Please, no more well meaning nutritional advice, it's just so boring...

Please, no more well meaning nutritional advice, it's just so boring...

WE know what to eat

And, if we're honest with ourselves, it's not ignorance about nutrition that's the problem.  We all know WHAT we should be eating.

The problem, of course is that it's just so hard to stick to.

That's where I come in.  I'm a behavioural researcher.  I work for marketing companies and advertising agencies and help to discover new ways to get people to change their behaviour.  Usually it's to buy things like more washing powder, but also to make changes like wearing seat belts, not drinking and driving and giving up fags.

I've got 30 years experience of influencing other people's behaviour - working on the brands you use everyday - so when it came to losing weight I wondered whether I could influence my own behaviour.  And make a change to my waistline.  

It's About how we eat

I simply took the best of what the nutritionalists have to offer on what to eat, and then I concentrated my research on HOW to eat.  That is, examining the patterns of eating, our routines and the temptations we all have to deal with, day in - day out, if we are going to stick with a diet.  And it doesn't matter whether it be Palio, Dukan, the Wartime Rationing Diet (yes, really) or whatever, the challenge is always the same.

It turned out that behavioural research does offer a lot to help us stick to a diet.  And what's more we can turn that advice into simple actions that make sticking to a diet easier.  I think of them as 'grooves'; they're behavioural paths that are easy to follow.  They are the messages and practices that we can use to change our behaviour.  It's a like launching an advertising campaign on just one person.  And it's even more effective than a talking meerkat.