Many of the foods we eat, and the ways in which we eat those foods, are the result of formed habits—that is, when you eat a certain snack at a certain time (say, chips in the afternoon); or when you eat a particular dessert each night in front of the television; or even when you choose a healthy salad with lean protein every time you eat at a certain restaurant; you are indulging a habit. As you can see, not all habits are bad. That’s good news.
A recent study looked at how our environment can have an impact on eating habits. Researchers from the University of Southern California gave movie-goers either fresh or week-old popcorn upon entering the theatre. Those people who usually ate popcorn during movies ate the same amount of stale popcorn as those who ate fresh popcorn, indicating that food habits, and the environment in which these habits take place, have a big impact on how and what we eat.
In another experiment, movie-goers were asked to eat popcorn with their non-dominant hand. So, right-handed people ate with their left hands and vice versa. Doing this caused people to pay more attention to what they were eating, and so they ate less. Coincidentally, using your non-dominant hand to do anything (say, brush your teeth) helps create new connections in your brain as it tries to grasp a new way of doing things. These types of brain hemisphere-crossing activities are actually recommended to stave off Alzheimer’s.
So, this week, take note of your eating habits—especially the bad ones. Then, try to change something about those habits. Maybe you change the scenery. Maybe you switch to a healthy food (creating a good habit). Or maybe you try to eat with your other hand to reduce the likelihood of overdoing it. See how many bad habits you can turn into good habits!