Self-Measurement and Self-Manipulation

In the field of diet and nutrition, we should liberate people to find their own path, not chain them to some new “healthy” protocol that may or may not suit them. Doing that requires more information – not from books or learned articles, but through an awareness of habits that can help us to trick ourselves into self-control.

HONG KONG – Recently I met with two nice slim men who have just launched a weight-loss app that provides daily menus and recipes, and offers some substitutions in case the user does not like a particular food. The two are programmers who have little understanding of their target market and have not read much of the relevant literature.

I must confess that I was appalled at their ignorance of nutrition, psychology, game dynamics, and even women’s magazines. Yes, they mean well, and they feel their users’ pain. “We get letters...” one said. “One lady wrote that she follows the menus properly, but then she wakes up at midnight and goes to the refrigerator....I don’t know what to tell her!”

Well, for starters, he could suggest that she keep sweets out of the house to avoid temptation, or that she put aside part of one of each day’s meals for a midnight snack. The idea is not to get overly scientific or precise, but to help people change their habits.

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