The Benefits Of Eating With Your Non-Dominant Hand


Like you and everyone you’ve ever met, I love to eat.


It does­n’t seem to mat­ter if I’m prepar­ing the food or going out to din­ner, when that full, pris­tine plate looks up at me I expe­ri­ence a euphor­ic sense of antic­i­pa­tion. I have an entire meal ahead of me. What could be better?

Mid­way through the meal, I’ll notice how lit­tle is left on my plate. I may even glance up at the clock and real­ize I’ve eat­en half my food in four min­utes. A sense of dread set­tles in. It’s all going to be over soon. Now I’m slow­er. More delib­er­ate. At least for a moment, until my focus wanes and I’m back eat­ing at break­neck speed. The next thing I know I look down to dis­cov­er that it is the last bite. Feel­ing like a man at the end of his life, I savor every bit, but it’s gone too soon.

Of course, this entire inter­nal mono­logue is a series of bro­ken, patchy emo­tions spo­rad­i­cal­ly break­ing in over the del­uge of dis­trac­tion. At break­fast, I crush pod­casts. Din­ner is a fam­i­ly affair where my wife and I catch up, and lunch could fea­ture dis­trac­tions from any of a mil­lion dif­fer­ent vehicles.

Occa­sion­al­ly, I’ll find myself mak­ing lunch with­out cer­tain­ty about what project I want to focus on while I eat. The men­tal wheels go into over­drive find­ing a suit­able dis­trac­tion. It nev­er cross­es my mind that eat­ing alone does not require oth­er activ­i­ties. It is an activ­i­ty I love, so why must I always opti­mize it?

  • Take a Look At Your Eating Patterns

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I know these pat­terns are only too com­mon. Co-work­ers are walk­ing around the office talk­ing on the phone while demol­ish­ing donuts they are hard­ly con­scious of consuming.

Social din­ners go from civ­il gath­er­ings to bar­bar­ic feasts as soon as the food arrives. The extra large piz­za we got to watch the foot­ball game van­ish­es in the span of a TV time­out. Good thing it came with wings.

We live in an age of abun­dance unfath­omable through most of human his­to­ry, yet can­not squelch that con­stant yearn­ing for more. More food. More distraction.

It is not that we should feel guilty, but there is a rea­son to con­sid­er a dif­fer­ent course. Improv­ing your health could be as sim­ple as eat­ing a bit slow­er. Slow­er con­sump­tion leads to bet­ter diges­tion, reduced GI tract issues, and more satiety.

The slow­er eaters ate less while aver­ag­ing 20 more min­utes eat­ing. They also report­ed far less hunger an hour lat­er. Over three meals that equates to eat­ing almost 200 few­er calo­ries per day while feel­ing greater sat­is­fac­tion and, thus, less occa­sion to snack.

  • You Must Stop to Breathe

For a soci­ety that des­per­ate­ly needs to stop and breathe, tak­ing time to slow­ly eat for its own sake may be the eas­i­est and most impact­ful habit you aren’t doing.

Yet, this eat­ing slow­ly thing is hard­er than it sounds.

It goes against all the ingrained pat­terns of our fast-paced world. We are eat­ing in the car on the way to an after­noon meet­ing and then scarf­ing din­ner down before rush­ing out the door for Sally’s evening vol­ley­ball practice.

The solu­tion is two-fold. Stud­ies repeat­ed­ly show that we eat more, eat worse, and are less sat­is­fied after meals in front of a screen. There is per­haps noth­ing you can do that is more impor­tant for your family’s health, edu­ca­tion­al atti­tudes, and eth­i­cal devel­op­ment than to cook din­ner at home and eat as a fam­i­ly- screen free.

Our lifestyles do not pro­mote this, but I implore you to work to make it a pri­or­i­ty. Fam­i­ly din­ner is a dai­ly oppor­tu­ni­ty for children’s expo­sure to home-cook­ing that breeds con­fi­dence in the abil­i­ty to pre­pare food. It is a dai­ly fam­i­ly reset where we learn to con­verse, see dif­fer­ent opin­ions, and care about each other’s lives.

Embrace the awk­ward silences that allow your brain space and prompt far greater depth of dis­cus­sion. There will be nights where it is still a cat­tle call, but occa­sion­al­ly you’ll also find your­self laugh­ing and con­vers­ing long after the last bite. Chew slow, ask ques­tions, and watch as both men­tal and phys­i­cal health improve.

  • You Must Eat Slower

Now we must address eat­ing slow­er. This is unnat­ur­al and may not be helped by fam­i­ly din­ners. There will be nights the din­ner feels more like an oblig­a­tion we’d like to rush through. As usu­al, suc­cess demands we impose rules and shape the envi­ron­ment to pro­mote suc­cess. Many slow­er eat­ing pro­po­nents advise putting the uten­sil down between each bite—not pick­ing it back up until food is thor­ough­ly chewed and swal­lowed. This works, but it can require a lot of self-monitoring.

My solu­tion has been to sim­ply eat with my non-dom­i­nant hand. This is chal­leng­ing and will require slow­ing down and hon­or­ing your embar­rass­ing lack of dex­ter­i­ty. You’ll have a new appre­ci­a­tion for the clum­sy fork work of 4‑year-olds.

If you’re right-hand­ed, you will get bet­ter at eat­ing left-hand­ed. When that is mas­tered, you can begin eat­ing with chop­sticks. By the time that gets easy, slow eat­ing should be thor­ough­ly ingrained. Sure you’ll feel awk­ward, but it is hard to be healthy with­out becom­ing com­fort­able at being the weirdo.


Increase Your Brain Power

The approach of eat­ing with your non-dom­i­nant hand has the added ben­e­fit of being won­der­ful for your brain. We are very pat­tern-ori­ent­ed and quick­ly get to a point where our bod­ies lose the abil­i­ty to behave in any way oth­er than how we’ve used it for the past decades.

Intro­duc­ing a steady flow of nov­el chal­lenges keeps your brain sharp and can help you intro­duce method­i­cal mind­ful­ness to all life’s auto­mat­ed tasks. Embrace the awk­ward­ness of your non-dom­i­nant side to slow down and find new appre­ci­a­tion in dai­ly living.

BY Shane Trotter at


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