We've all done it, skip out on a sit down meal at a real table, in real chairs, for something quick and easy we can eat on the fly but research suggests this may be contributing to overeating and weight gain!
A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology
followed dieters and non dieters under three different eating conditions. The 'eaters' were observed while watching a short TV clip, while taking a walk, or while chatting with a friend. Your alarm bells are probably going off for the TV group as it is now well known that mindless eating is a dangerous trap. However, the researchers (out of the University of Surrey), found that the dieters who were moving around while eating were more likely to overdo it. They even over did it more than those engaged in more conventional mindless eating like watching TV. These folks were also more likely to overeat later in the day.
"Hunger and fullness are far more than just biological processes, and not only relate to the calories consumed, but also to whether a person is aware of what they are eating," says lead author Jane Ogden, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Surrey. "When we eat mindlessly and are distracted from the food we are eating, our body doesn't get to code the food as having been eaten."
So why is it that one form of distraction can be much worse than another? What tips that scale, as it were? "I think eating on the go may cause more overeating than watching TV not only because it is a powerful form of distraction but it's also a form of exercise," says Ogden. "People may then overcompensate for this exercise and feel that they are legitimately allowed to eat more."
It is more or less impossible for most of us to sit down to a meal three times a day but Ogden says making an adjustment doesn't need to be all that difficult. She suggests choosing pre-portioned foods so you can't overeat but mostly she said it is about training your brain to recognize that it is eating a meal. "This doesn't need to take much time," says Ogden, "stopping what you are doing and practicing the conscious process of thinking 'now I am having something to eat' should be enough."
So, take a moment. Sit. Chew. Savor. It might just save you pounds in the end!
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