Are you guilty of habit eating? We all are in one way or another. We are creatures of habit so it is only natural that habits are going to shape how and what we eat. The important thing is to be aware of this so that we can break potentially destructive eating habits we may already have, and prevent any new ones from forming.
Habit eating is largely affected by our environment, as was confirmed in a study by thePersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin journal. This study involved participants who were watching movie clips/trailers in a movie theater. Participants of the study were either regular consumers of popcorn when attending the movies or were not regular consumers of popcorn when attending movies. Two types of popcorn were distributed for the movie clips, fresh popcorn and stale popcorn.
At the end of the study, the group of regular popcorn consumers had eaten the same amount of stale popcorn as fresh. Among the group that does not regularly eat popcorn at the movies, less stale popcorn was consumed than fresh.
Altering the location of the movie clip showing. Participants were given popcorn (fresh or stale) while watching movie clips in a meeting room. This time, both habitual and non habitual popcorn eaters ate less stale popcorn than fresh. Changing the environment seemed to disrupt the habit thus altering the pattern of behavior.
Lastly, a new group of participants were given stale or fresh popcorn at the movies while watching movie clips. This time, participants were instructed to either use their dominant or non-dominant hand to eat. Participants who used their non-dominant hand, whether they were regular consumers of popcorn at the movies or not, ate much less of the stale popcorn than fresh. Again, changing part of the “equation” seemed to disrupt the habitual behavior.
The important thing is to become more aware of your habits before they negatively affect your health.
- Eat a varied diet. Even with healthy foods, eating the same thing all the time can cause you to miss out on other nutrients offered by other foods.
- Try not to eat in front of the TV or while distracted. You want to be aware so you know what and how much you are eating and also so you know when to stop. If it’s a must, try switching the hand you eat with.
- Change the hand you eat with or the location. These will disrupt the patter or habit that you formed and help stop you from habit eating!
Try eating with a different hand next time you are at the movies. Come back and tell me the effect it had!
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