News for Dieters: Old Habits Die Hard

If you’re trying to lose weight, making a small change might help.  A new study (summarized by the BPS Research Digest) finds that using the non-dominant hand can significantly reduce the kind of habitual eating that many indulge in without even noticing.

(iStockphoto)

Psychologists invited 158 subjects to watch movie trailers in either a movie theater or a university department meeting room and provided participants (some habitual popcorn eaters, some not) with either stale or fresh popcorn. They found that “in the cinema setting the habitual popcorn eaters ate just as much of the popcorn when it was stale as when it was fresh. This they did even though they said they liked it less (just as the non-habitual popcorn eaters did), and regardless of whether they were hungry or not.

By contrast, when in the department meeting room (not the usual setting for eating popcorn), the habitual popcorn eaters ate less of the stale popcorn and their consumption was influenced by hunger.” In a second experiment, half of the participants were told they had to eat their popcorn with their non-dominant hands. This time, the habitual popcorn eaters who were told to use their non-dominant hand “were freed of their usual habit – they ate less of the stale popcorn and their consumption was driven more by hunger and liking.”

Just think how far the dedicated dieter could take this concept…

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COMMENTS: 5


  1. frankenduf says:

    i think we also simply eat what is in front of us, be it the small cup or XL bucket- this is why an essential feature of a successful diet is smaller portions- and this can be accomplished by using smaller plates @ home (or larger plates for salad…)- once ur eyes get accustomed to how the food looks on a small plate, u will become nauseous when someone brings u a large plate of food

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  2. Brian says:

    How long will it take for the habit to form using your non dominate hand. With Popcorn it may take longer. i was thinking about this as a technique to cut back on smoking and feel that smokers will become accustomed to the change fairly quickly. Although, I guess popcorn is not an addictive drug…

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  3. Joshua says:

    Well, as Jesus said, “If you’re right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.”

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  4. Ross says:

    I hurt my shoulder and it limited my ability to participate in many sports. The only thing I could continue playing do was play frisbee golf. Within a month I was playing at a consistent level and didn’t look or feel like it wasn’t my dominant hand.

    It might work for a short amount of time, but almost everyone will overcome using their weak hand and snack like an ambidextrous pro. I already can due to practice from snacking while using a computer.

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