Trying to cut back on calories from snack food? Try switching hands!
A study from the University of Southern California has found people using their nondominant hand to eat snack food reduced about 30% of their total intake, compared with those using their dominant hands.
Researcher David Neal, who was an assistant professor in psychology at the time of the study, says:
"If people disrupt the physical sequence of action that is in automatic eating, that’s one way to gain some control.”
The findings were a result of an initial study on the effect a snacker's environment has on their consumption.
For the first part the experiment, participants were given either a bag of freshly popped popcorn or a stale bag that was over a week old, then asked to watch several movie trailers in a dark theater.
Those who indicated that they regularly ate popcorn during a movie ate about 63% of the popcorn bag, REGARDLESS of whether it was stale or fresh.
Then researchers organized a music video screening in a dark meeting room and found participants didn't eat as much when their environment changed.
In the final study, researchers asked the participants to only use their nondominant hand to eat popcorn during another screening in a movie theater.
If eating stale popcorn, the amount of stale popcorn habitual popcorn lovers ate dropped nearly 30%. Fresh popcorn eaters also ate less, but the difference was merely slight. Researchers explained the phenomenon, saying:
“It’s inconvenient and disruptive to eat with the nondominant hand, but that effect is much stronger when the food is horrible. It suggests it’s not just inconvenience. It makes you think, ‘Is there a value of what I’m doing? Does this taste good? Am I hungry?’ If the answer is no, you stop eating.”
Basically, it sounds like we have a strong habit to mindlessly eat food when we're watching movies, regardless of the quality. Using the hand we do not normally use may cause us to stop and question our actions.
Experiment for yourself! Try using your nondominant hand to eat the food you purchased at the snack bar during your next movie night!
[Image via WENN.]
Tags: calories, environment, movies, popcorn, study, theater, university of southern california, usc