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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.


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…