With few exceptions, distractions are rarely healthy, whether it’s being distracted by screaming kids while driving, distracted by mindless e-mail in the middle of your busy work day, or distracted by a loud noise just as you’re about to clean your sharpest knife. Being distracted while eating is also a big no-no, says recent research; in fact, it can lead to an all-too-common habit: overeating.
As reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people distracted during eating tend to feel less full after eating and also have more difficulty recalling exactly what they’ve eaten. The study assessed how playing solitaire on the computer during a fixed lunch, eaten at a fixed rate, affected food intake and memory of what had been eaten (courtesy of a taste test 30 minutes later). Participants not assigned to the study group ate the same lunch at the same rate, but without the distraction of the computer game.
The study authors’ conclusion says it all: “These findings provide further evidence that distraction during one meal has the capacity to influence subsequent eating. They may also help to explain the well-documented association between sedentary screen-time activities and overweight.”
Eating without distractions isn’t only a good way to avoid overeating; it’s also beneficial for your overall health and wellness – whether it’s eating away from your desk at lunch, giving yourself a much-needed break from the daily grind; or sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal instead of gluing yourself to the couch and watching TV.