Overeating – When It’s Just Too Easy To Eat Too Much
We all know that habitual overeating is bad for us – it causes digestive discomfort, leads to weight gain, and just makes us feel generally unhealthy. Unfortunately, retraining ourselves to eat smaller portions, to stop eating as soon as we are satisfied and just to follow a better diet on a day-to-day basis can be very challenging.
Most of us know that making minor behavioral changes can work to some extent. For instance, eating food from smaller plates, eating at the table with the TV off, waiting half an hour before going for additional servings and brushing your teeth as soon as you have finished eating can all help in cutting down on our food consumption. But when willpower or the above methods fail, it’s time to take a look at more unconventional approaches. Read on to discover a strange but scientifically proven way to help yourself eat less.
Why A Simple Switch Could Make All The Difference
It may surprise you, but there is a simple technique that could make all the difference in slowing down your food consumption. All you have to do is try feeding yourself with your non-dominant hand.
How does this work? Firstly, it forces you to eat more slowly and this in turn gives your stomach more time to signal to your brain that you have reached satiety. Far too many of us eat quickly, and fail to give our brains sufficient time to realize that we are full.
However, there is a secondary mechanism at work. Research has shown that our habits exert strong influence on our behaviors, and even subtle changes in cues can have significant knock-on effects when it comes to our actions. When we intentionally disrupt one of our habitual behaviors, it can trigger us to pay more attention to our other actions. In the case of overeating, it appears that the way in which we eat food can cause us to focus more intently on the degree to which it satisfies us. This can result in us ultimately eating less.
For example, a paper published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin demonstrated the power that changing our eating habits – that is, eating with the non-dominant hand – can have. On two separate occasions, participants were given popcorn to eat whilst watching a film. When they were allowed to eat with their dominant hands, the amount of popcorn consumed was unaltered – it was the same on both occasions, even when the popcorn was stale! However, when participants were limited to eating with their non-dominant hand only, they ate up to 30 per cent less food.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of these findings is that the participant did not have to intentionally attempt to deprive themselves or limit their consumption – it just happened naturally. This is great news for those trying to stick to a diet but discovering that their willpower is dwindling. Any technique for reducing overeating that works without requiring huge reserves of willpower has got to be a huge benefit to any dieter!
So the next time you find yourself having an especially hungry day, or that extra piece of pizza just seems too tempting, why not try something a bit different? It might seem weird at first but we have evidence that it really does work – why not give it a go? If you feel awkward doing this in front of other people, just try it when eating alone to begin with. Who knows, as you see the effects for yourself, you may want to share your discovery with family and friends! Just be prepared for some slightly messier meals.