Swap Hands, Drop Pounds: The Snack-Busting Tip You Haven’t Tried

Snacking can be a hard habit to break, especially when those hunger pangs hit. You may find yourself mindlessly munching on unhealthy snacks and then wonder how that happened. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this struggle. A study conducted at the University of Southern California has uncovered an easy trick to help you take control of your snacking habits, and it’s surprisingly simple: switch the hand you’re eating with!

The Science Behind the Snacking Switch

The idea is easy to follow. If you typically reach for those potato chips with your right hand, try using your left hand instead. If you’re left-handed, just use your right hand. By doing this, you force yourself to be more aware of the food you’re putting into your mouth. This increased awareness can lead to eating less and potentially breaking the cycle of mindless snacking.

Researchers found that using the non-dominant hand disrupted bad eating habits and made people pay more attention to what they were eating. Moviegoers in the study ate significantly less popcorn when using their non-dominant hand, even if they had strong eating habits.

Wendy Wood, one of the researchers, explains that “it’s not always feasible for dieters to avoid or alter the environments in which they typically overeat.” Instead, using simple strategies like switching the hand you eat with can make a substantial difference.

How to Implement the Snacking Switch

On top of switching your dominant hand, you can also try to incorporate additional strategies to further strengthen your control over snacking. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  1. Be conscious of portion sizes. To avoid overeating, measure out snack portions ahead of time instead of munching straight from the bag or box. Seeing the portion size can be a helpful reminder to not overindulge.
  2. Choose healthier options. Drastically cutting out snacking can be difficult. Instead, aim to snack on healthier alternatives like fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Check out this article from the Harvard School of Public Health for some healthy snack options.
  3. Distract yourself. When you feel the urge to snack, engage in a different activity to distract yourself, such as taking a short walk, listening to music, or calling a friend.
  4. Practice mindful eating. Focus on the taste, texture, and smell of the food you’re about to eat. By paying attention to the sensory aspects of food, you can increase your awareness and ultimately eat less. Learn more about mindful eating from this article by Mindful.org.

Additional Benefits of Eating with Your Non-Dominant Hand

Aside from reducing mindless snacking, switching hands can offer other benefits as well:

  1. Brain workout. Engaging your non-dominant hand forces your brain to work differently, which can improve cognitive function. According to a Scientific American article, engaging both sides of the brain is crucial for overall cognitive health.
  2. Break bad habits. Using your non-dominant hand can disrupt other habits, not just snacking. Breaking your daily routine can help you become more self-aware and take control of your actions.
  3. Improve dexterity. Regular use of your non-dominant hand can improve its dexterity, flexibility and strength, according to an article on Psychology Today.


Controlling snacking habits can be a significant challenge for many people. Making simple changes, like using your non-dominant hand to eat, can be an effective way to break the cycle of mindless snacking. By being more aware of what and how you eat, you can reduce unhealthy snacking and improve your overall health, one bite at a time.