The Convenience Factor: The Reason Behind Your Mindless Snacking

Convenience x Experience = Likelihood of Action

As we’re going to see, that formula is the key to a significant amount of your eating issues.

Have you ever found yourself mindlessly walking around your home until you eventually find yourself in the kitchen?

You look around, see a snack laying around, and eat it.

You may even know that you aren’t hungry, or that you shouldn’t eat that particular food (what’s your food kryptonite?), but it’s just so…easy.


I have, and I know that millions of others do this on a regular basis, and it’s the problem that we’re going to tackle in this article.  At the end I’ll give you some actionable advice to help cut down on this mindless snacking.

Introducing the Convenience Factor

I’ve never heard a specific name for it, so I’m going to be calling it the convenience factor here.

The premise is this, the more convenient something is, the more likely you are to do it, with all other things held constant.  For example, if you have a drink right beside you, you aren’t going to go get a drink from the other room.

Let’s take it one step further though, what if the drink in the other room is your favorite drink ever, let’s say Koolaid (everyone loves Koolaid), and you have a glass of water next to you.  Well, for a significant amount of people, the preferred drink would be worth the effort.

Now it’s time to bring back that formula from the beginning:

Convenience x Experience = Likelihood of Action

In short: C*Exp = L

We’ve talked about the ‘C’ factor, but what about experience?

Experience in this case refers both to the enjoyment of eating or drinking the option, as well as any enjoyment in obtaining it.

Studies have backed up, that if you enjoy cooking, you are more likely to cook a meal (1).  Whereas if you don’t like cooking, it’s a chore to go and cook for 30 minutes or an hour to make a good meal.

Let’s hold the convenience factor constant for a second.  In this case the Koolaid is still in the kitchen, but in one case the kitchen is empty, while in the other case there’s a guy or girl that you like.  Instead of seeing it as wasting effort to go and get the drink, you are much more likely to go when someone you want to see is in the room with the drink.  In other words, it’s a better experience.

The main takeaway from this, is that you need to evaluate the experience term in the formula by your own preferences, encompassing all parts of the experience.

Finally, the likelihood.  I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, in that it’s the likelihood of you doing whatever it is you’re thinking about.  High convenience and good experience consequently means you are very likely to undertake the task at hand.

How is This Going to Help Me Eat Better?

Now we can get to the more fun stuff, which is how to actually apply this information to improve your eating habits.

Once you understand the formula you can manipulate it.

Remember: C*Exp = L

Manipulating the Convenience Factor

To put it simply, you should make it as easy as possible to eat healthy, and as difficult as possible to eat poorly.

For example, put fruits and vegetables on the counters and tables, or at least make them easily accessible in the fridge.  On the other hand, take all that junk food you want to limit and put it in places that are a pain in the ass to get to.  If you have a creepy basement put them down there somewhere.

If you have a really bad problem with a certain food, you may want to keep it out of the house altogether.  It’s possible that you’ll come into a situation where you crave it bad enough to go walk or drive to a store just to buy it, but the overall likelihood of this happening is pretty low.

[caption id="attachment_324" align="aligncenter" width="424"]Lock up that Chocolate! Lock up that Chocolate![/caption]

Manipulating the Experience Term

This term is all about you.  If you want to encourage eating healthy, you need to make it as pleasant as experience as possible (or as little an inconvenience).

If you don’t like cooking, start cooking in bulk to minimize the total time spent, and do it while listening to music or your favorite podcast.  Also, cook different things, nothing makes cooking more boring than cooking the exact same thing over and over.

Trying to make eating junk less pleasant is a harder task, but if you live with a roommate you can’t stand you could put the junk somewhere your roommate spends a lot of time.

Putting it All Together

Puzzle Pieces - Problem Solved

This is where balance really comes into play, and you’ll have to experiment with some things.

You can start by trying to manipulate either term by itself at first, or you can try manipulating both at the same time.

There’s one more thing you should do to increase your chances of success.  Start by leaving me a comment below telling me how you are going to use the Convenience Factor equation to improve your snacking habits.  Then bookmark this article and come back in 2 weeks and tell me the results.

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