Losing weight isn't easy, and chances are the endless struggle to drop five, 10 or 20 pounds leaves you feeling more frustrated and hungry than triumphant and svelte. Not only are diets difficult to stick to, they're notoriously confusing -- counting calories, calculating points and analyzing every last detail on the nutritional information of the foods you eat frankly kind of sucks. Why can't it be easier?
It might be. A recent study from the University of Southern California has discovered that simply switching the hand you eat with can curb your calorie consumption. In other words, eat with your left hand (or right hand if you're a lefty) and you'll eat less. It's as simple as that.
"It's not always feasible for dieters to avoid or alter the environments in which they typically overeat," said study co-author Wendy Wood in a statement. "More feasible, perhaps, is for dieters to actively disrupt the established patterns of how they eat through simple techniques, such as switching the hand they use to eat."
Wood and her fellow researchers tested this hypothesis out on individuals eating popcorn at the movies and found that it was an effective tool to helping people eat less, particularly if you're eating something more out of habit than taste (such as stale popcorn). “It’s inconvenient and disruptive to eat with the nondominant hand, but that effect is much stronger when the food is horrible,” assistant professor David Neal told CNN. “It suggests it’s not just inconvenience. It makes you think, ‘Is there a value of what I’m doing? Does this taste good? Am I hungry?’ If the answer is no, you stop eating.”
Of course, switching hands when you eat is just one of many similar diet gimmicks that's supposed to help you eat less. You could also try one of the following:
Eat With Smaller Plates. Research suggests that people tend to eat around 20 percent fewer calories when they put their food on smaller plates.
Eat Slowly. Studies of 1,500 middle-aged women in New Zealand discovered that women who ate slowly typically weighed less than speedy eaters.
Chew More. Research suggests that chewing food forty times (instead of the usual 15) can cut your calorie intake by 12 percent.
Drink More Water. Drinking two cups of water before every meal can help you eat less and lose weight faster.
These are all good tips, but here's the bottom line: If you eat poorly and don't exercise, you're not going to lose weight no matter what hand you eat with or how small your plates are. That's the one simple rule that has withstood the test of time.