How often do you sit in front of the TV or work on the computer with a bag of potato chips and just munch away? Or set up the tray table with your dinner and stare at the screen as the fork enters your mouth. Hence, why frozen dinners were called TV dinners back in the day.
A new study by Tumin and Anderson recently showed that eating meals in front of the TV is associated with obesity risk. Other studies how shown correlations between video game playing and obesity. So why is TV and other electronics associated with overeating and obesity risk?
An area of nutrition practice that has become popular is that of mindful eating. Mindful eating is described as eating with intention and awareness and enjoying your food. Such practice has been linked to healthier eating and not overeating.
I would argue that when eating in front of the TV or other type of screen we are actually doing the opposite. Our primary focus is not on the food but on the screen. We are not mindful in our practice of eating. We go from eating, which is associated with psychological enjoyment and attentive to the food to solely feeding connected to just the physiological aspect of filling the stomach. I am so guilty of this. At work, I always eat lunch in front of my screen as I am working.
Many different factors of course play into an individual’s risk of being obese. However, moving away from the screen may be something simple we can change. Behavior change is not easy. Many of us don’t like change, but we like routine. If eating in front of the screen is the routine then how can we make this small change that may help us to pay closer attention to what we are eating and may help us eat a bit healthier or at least a bit less.
Here are some ideas. These may take some discipline and household rule changes but may be worth it in the long run.:
1. If your favorite show is during dinner time, either move your dinner time to before or after or record your show and watch it later.
2. Make a house rule that food is only allowed in the kitchen and remove any TV or other screen you may have from the kitchen. No more potato chip crumbs to pick up throughout the house!
3. Set time limits of when screens can be on or used during the day.
4. Instead of eating while watching TV, exercise. For example, walk in place as you watch the news in the evening.
We live in a society where screens seem to call our attention. See if you can make screens and eating not connected to each other.