Many people know that there are certain habits that should be avoided if you want to follow a healthy lifestyle, like concentrating on eating and not watching television, surfing the internet, etc. But, most of the people may not realize just how harmful these habits can be.
Researchers at the University of Surrey in England examined three groups of women to assess different patterns of distracted snacking. The first group viewed a clip of the television show “Friends” while consuming a cereal bar. The second group ate the same cereal bar while taking a walk. The third group consumed the cereal bar while talking with a friend and sitting down.
Following the experiment, the participants each completed a questionnaire and participated in a taste test of chocolate, carrot sticks, grapes and potato chips. Researchers found, after measuring how much of each snack each group consumed, that the participants who ate while walking ate 5 times more chocolate than the remaining two groups.
Susan Albers, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic who specializes in mindful eating and is the author of EAT-Q: Unlock the Weight Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence, thinks that this phenomenon is related to how distracted we become when we are constantly on the go.
“When you’re walking, your engaged in so many activities, like paying attention to where you’re going and trying to not run into things. It’s next to impossible to actually focus on what you’re eating, which can keep you from processing how it’s having an impact on your hunger.” Further, the authors of the study concluded that there was an additional effect that was based on the fact that participants felt that since they were exercising, they could afford the extra chocolate.
If you are used to eating while walking, try wearing your headphones. Albers states, “They can help block out external noises and minimize the number of distractions, which means you can be more mindful about what you’re eating.” You also should pay some attention to when and where you are eating.
Here are five helpful suggestions to help control your snacking.
1. Always sit down.
Albers uses the phrase, “Only eat when you’re off your feel.” This can help you be more focused on the eating, and more likely to make better choices. This helps you give your body a rest and a chance to realize just how much you are consuming. It also allows you to feel full at the right times, when you are actually full. This can help you to avoid unnecessary binging later on.
2. Chew slowly.
Although the study referenced in this article makes it difficult to do, it is important to make an effort to chew more slowly. “Whether you’re eating while walking, chatting with friends, or watching TV, it’s common to match your eating pace to whatever pace that’s around you,” says Albers. Another trick she uses, eating with your non-dominant hand. This can slow your eating pace by up to 30%.
3. Enjoy your food.
When you take the time to truly savour what you are eating, and enjoy all of the textures and flavours, you will be more mindful of what you are eating. This extra enjoyment provides greater satisfaction, and helps prevent unnecessary munching later on.
4. Keep things around you simple.
Even if you eat at your desk, you should take a break from work and concentrate on eating. Avoid checking your cell phone or keeping junk food in the drawer for later. Focus on what you are eating, in the moment, and by focusing and enjoying it more, you will be more satisfied and indulge in fewer unhealthy choices.
5. Smile in between bites of food.
Albers claims that this behaviour helps close the gap between the thought that you want more and putting another bite in your mouth. She adds, “Smiling also pumps feel-good chemicals throughout your body that can help reduce stress and emotional eating.”
Reduce the amount of mindless snacking that you do throughout the day by following these great tips!