We’re all creatures of habit. And some habits are self-destructive, like automatically eating a whole basket of chips at a Mexican restaurant. So how can you break bad habits, like automatic overeating?
Your best bet: Alter your environment. In a recent study, people who always eat popcorn at the movies mindlessly ate a whole tub of popcorn at a movie test screening, even when they were given stale, 7-day-old popcorn! But when the same people watched a movie in a conference room, sitting in hard chairs, they left the stale stuff untouched. Why? Because they didn’t have the same surroundings that fueled their popcorn habit, mainly, comfy chairs in a huge, dark room.
Another trick: Eat with your non-dominant hand. In other words, if you’re a righty, eat only with your left hand. The same study found that popcorn addicts watching a movie in the theater who could only reach for a handful with their non-dominant hand didn’t eat the stale popcorn. Why? Because they had to think about what they were doing. And once they started thinking, they realized it wasn’t worth eating.