Distracted Dining – Dangerous to Your Health?

Did you know distracted dining could be contributing to your weight gain? Recent research shows that how we relate to food—even as we eat it—may have a much more dramatic effect on our waistlines that we’ve ever thought before. One study even suggests that distracted dining is as deadly as distracted driving!

What is Distracted Dining?

Take a look around and you’ll spot it everywhere:

  • People gobbling breakfast while scrolling on their phones
  • Coworkers rushing through lunch at their computers
  • Families eating dinner in front of the television.

Distracted dining happens any time whatever is in front of you takes precedence over the food you’re putting in your mouth. These distractions cause you to ignore hunger cues and continue to eat long after you’re full.

Even something as “harmless” as reading a book while you enjoy an afternoon snack can contribute to unwanted weight gain. How often have you asked yourself “where did all those potato chips go?”

How Prevalent is Distracted Dining?

Research from the University of Utah shows that most Americans spend at least 50% of their dining time focused on something other than their food. Experiments proved that distracted dining led to poorer food choices (including eating fatty, high sugar, or high caloric foods and consuming greater quantities) which can lead to critical weight-related health issues and disease.

But if so many people do it, how bad can it really be?

A new study from the University of Illinois suggests that distracted dining is as harmful to your health as distracted driving is to your safety. Researchers correlated data from distracted dining experiments with health risks associated with obesity (including heart disease and diabetes) and found that, in the long run, distracted dining may put you at just as much risk for hospitalization and an early death.

5 Tips to Combat Distracted Dining

More mindful mealtimes not only prevent excess weight gain but may help you live longer and healthier.

Ditch the distracted dining by:

  1. Carving Out Meal Times—creating a definite time for meals gives you the structure and regularity you need to reshape your relationship with food.
  2. Eating In the Same Place—it doesn’t have to be the dinner table, but eating in the same place everyday combats mealtime chaos that can wreak havoc on your diet.
  3. Eliminating Electronics—dinner should be device-free. Put away the phones and shut off the television.
  4. Experiencing the Meal—take the time to enjoy your food—the taste, the smell, the colors and shapes—and don’t forget to chew thoroughly.
  5. Removing Temptation—keep high-calorie snacks hidden deep in the cupboards or out of the house altogether. Opt for healthier snack options like tasty Hollywood Diet® meal replacement cookies, brownies or delicious, crunchy protein-rich Crax™ instead.

Being present in the moment when you eat is one of the most powerful and effective ways to restructure your relationship with food.  Eliminating distracted dining will help you take control of your life, shed unwanted pounds, and reach those weight loss goals.