This is the time of year when many people renew their determination to
lose weight with yet another New Year's resolution. What can you do
differently this time to make a success out of your new plan? Apparently
the latest Eating (Photo by Dezidor/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)idea for getting yourself to eat less is a simple one --
switch hands. By eating with your non-dominant hand you will cut
calories automatically according to researchers.
By and large it has long been shown that, for the most part, diets don't work. They can be confusing, whether you are counting calories, points, carbs, or fat. It can drive you nuts to measure ounces, grams, or portion sizes. Worst of all is being left miserably hungry and stressed out. There must be an easier way to cut back.
Researchers at the University of Southern California conducted a study recently and found that people were likely to cut calories significantly if they "simply" changed over to snack with the other hand. So right-handed people were asked to eat only with their left hand and lefties were asked to eat with their right hand.
The idea behind this is that dieters can't always change their environment or the situations that lead them to over-indulge. Instead they looked for ways that dieters could make achange that would disrupt the established patterns in how they eat.
I found that there is nothing truly "simple" about the change. It can be hard work to switch your eating hand. I tried it myself and it was more than a bit awkward and I was clumsy. However, that is exactly the point. When you change to your non-dominant hand you can't eat mindlessly. You have to put at least a minimum of effort into eating and you start to become more aware of how much you are eating. While the researchers cite this as the reason you eat less, I found that it just became too much trouble to keep snacking when I didn't actually need to eat.
ABC News Tests the Study (You Tube Image)Whatever the reason is that you actually eat less, the researchers say it works. To test the findings ABC News set up their own experiment and filled a movie theater with right-handed people each with a bag of popcorn. One half of the group was asked to only eat with their left hand and the other half were allowed to snack as they normally do.
After the movie they weighed the bags and found that people eating with the wrong hand ate 6% less than those who ate normally. While this is not a huge amount for one sitting, over the course of a year it can really add up. Keeping this up could result in a loss of about 6 pounds a year.
This sort of behavioral change is along the lines of other tricks that researchers have been recommending for many years: eat with smaller plates, chew your food longer, eat slowly, and drink more water,
Of course, it should go without saying, but always seems to bear repeating, eating healthy, nutritious food and getting plenty of exercise should always be at the top of the list.
Sources: Huffington Post, ABC News