Turn off the TV
Do you watch TV while you eat? If you do, and you’re trying to lose weight, you might want to think about shutting off the television and finding other ways to enjoy your meal and to prevent unwanted snacking. Why? When you watch TV you are distracted and are not paying attention to how much you consume.
Research, conducted by University of Massachusetts scientists, found that those who watch TV while consuming a meal ingest more than 280 calories, on average, compared to those who don’t. Participants in the study were put into two groups. The participants in both groups had either macaroni and cheese or pizza. However, one group listened to music while eating, the other watched television. The TV viewers consumed 36% more calories from pizza and 71% more from the macaroni and cheese than the music listeners. According to the study author, Elliott Blass, Ph.D, when people are distracted by television their brain might not realize that they are full and continue eating.
In addition, some TV shows are worse than others. For instance, food and cooking-based shows and commercials can actually increase your level of hunger and make you crave the foods that are being discussed or advertised.
What can you do to avoid TV and eating? Try the following:
- Prepare food with your family – This will help to increase the level of joy and satisfaction you take from the food you make. Instead of rushing to prepare food, concentrate on what you are making and you are likely to make better food choices.
- Listen, don’t watch – Eat your meal listening to your favorite tunes, talk show, or even listening to an audio book. It will help to keep your mind occupied and cut through the silence without completely distracting you from your meal.
- Eat with others – As much as you can, enjoy meal times with your family or in the company of other people. Conversation slows down your eating, which helps you to recognize when you are full.
- Allow yourself 30 minutes of digestion before settling in front of the TV – You should feel full before you watch anything.
- Keep your hands occupied – When you do finally settle down to watch TV, keep your hands busy, so you will be less inclined to want to reach for food. Consider knitting, sewing, squeezing a stress ball, etc.
- Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time – At some point; you are likely to feel hungry when you watch television. Have some good-for-you munchies ready, such as raw veggies, fruits, and other healthy alternatives to junk food.