Vitality

'Distracted Eating' In Front Of Your TV Or Your Phone Makes You Fat, More Likely To Snack Later

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It doesn't count as enjoying your food if you're on your phone. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

If you want to lose weight, start out by putting your phone down when you're eating. Eating while sitting in front of the TV or while staring at your phone contributes to weight gain, a sedentary lifestyle, and overall unhealthiness, according to a new study.

It’s important to pay attention to your food while you’re eating. That’s because when you’re distracted by your phone, you’re not fully experiencing your food or fullness. In the study, published in the journal Appetite, researchers found that people who ate lunch while watching TV or playing games on a computer ended up snacking more later compared to participants who were attentive and mindful about their meal.

The researchers examined 39 normal-weight young women who were divided into three experimental conditions: a high-distraction group, a low-distraction group, and a no-distraction group. The participants were all given a 400-calorie lunch that was the same. The first group was told to play a computer game while eating, and if they won, they’d receive money. The second group was told to play the game while eating, and the third group was simply told to eat. After the meal, the researchers measured how many biscuits they ate.

The high-distraction group ate 69 percent more biscuits and snacks than the no-distraction group, and the low-distraction group ate 28 percent more than in the no-distraction group.

“The results suggest that attentive eating may be a useful target in interventions to help with appetite control,” the authors write, according to the Daily Mail.

It seems like the trick is to be mindful of the things you’re doing, especially when it comes to food intake. Eating slowly and being aware of all the tastes and experience of your food is a good way to start.

In a 2011 study, researchers examined how eating lunch “mindfully” helped people manage their food intake and weight. They concluded that focusing on their meal and eating mindfully helped people feel fuller and more satisfied, making them less likely to eat again later.

“These results suggest that enhancing meal memory by paying attention to food while eating can reduce later intake and are consistent with the suggestion that memory plays an important role in appetite control,” the authors wrote in the abstract.

Another study out of Rutgers University found that families who sat down together at the dinner table actually were healthier and less likely to be overweight. Thus, sitting down for a good home-cooked meal with the rest of your family will help you pay attention to the food, and also maintain your weight. This is especially important for adolescents, who are at a higher risk of developing childhood obesity if they snack often while “distracted” by the TV, phone, or computer.

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