26 March 2013

Unconscious eating

Do you snack while you're watching tv (hello March Madness, I'm looking at you)?

Do you browse through websites or scroll facebook while you're eating lunch or dinner?

Do you "have to" have a snack before bed (or at 3pm or after lunch) because for some reason you've decided that you "have to"?

Do you regularly open a bag of girl scout cookies or chips and look down 20 minutes later only to realize you've nearly eaten the whole thing? (please tell me this isn't just me)

Do you open a soda, gatorade, energy drink or other form of liquid calories and finish it in record time because you're sipping it without thinking? (P.S. If you're that thirsty, you should probably drink more water)

Do you eat while driving in the car?

For a lot of people, myself included, a significant amount of calories are consumed unconsciously. I will open a granola bar and then, in what seems like 2 seconds, I reach down for another bite and, not only is the thing gone, but I'm left unsatisfied and 100 calories "fuller". A big part of making yourself and your diet healthier is being honest with yourself about what you eat and drink. I've always been afraid of doing a food journal because it makes me feel guilty about what I am putting in my mouth, even though I try to incorporate many healthy and whole food options into my diet. In a lot of ways, it's really about taking a good look at what you're eating and drinking and more importantly, how much.

There is a 24 hours news station here in Atlanta that I often listen to on my drive to and from work (while I'm eating my aforementioned granola bar in the car) and I recently heard them mention a study that claimed that "distracted" eaters consume up to 50% more calories than "attentive" eaters. Up to 50% more just from not paying attention! That's crazy to me, and at the same time it makes total sense. This article from Fox News addresses this claim so I think this is what they were referring to. They say that "distracted eaters do not pay close attention to food and are not as aware of how much they have eaten." Duh, right?

These were the results. They totally make sense, but I found them fascinating.
On average, eating while distracted increased the amount eaten by about 10 percent, compared to not being distracted. But it also increased the amount a person ate at a later meal by more than 25 percent.

In contrast, enhancing memories of food consumed at an earlier meal reduced the amount consumed at a subsequent meal by about 10 percent.

Enhancing awareness of the food being consumed at the current meal did not, however, change how much people ate at that meal.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/03/18/distracted-eaters-likely-to-take-in-more-calories/#ixzz2OfFkgesS
So here's the good news from what I understand of the results: thinking about what you ate earlier in the day can actually make you eat about 10% less at your next meal. That's pretty cool, and I think worth a try if you're looking to decrease your calories. And while you're at it, put down the book, turn off the tv and the computer, and savor the pleasure that is eating. :D

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