Do you ever find yourself eating dinner in front of the television or scarfing down lunch at your desk? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Studies show two out of three people eat dinner in front of the television and nearly 70% of American employees either don’t take a lunch break or eat at their desks. And with 77% of the U.S. adult population now owning a smartphone, we’re guessing there’s a fair amount of snacking happening while perusing social media too.
While you probably don’t need scientists to tell you that distracted eating is bad for your waistline, there’s plenty of research to prove it. One meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who were distracted by a laptop or TV were more likely to overeat at mealtime and much more likely to have a larger meal or snack later in the day.
To help you cut some of those unnecessary calories and bring mindfulness back to mealtime, here are three quick tips to help you curb distracted eating:
1. Schedule distraction-free time to eat.
If you often eat breakfast on-the-go or scarf down lunch while checking emails, go ahead and block of time on your calendar for those frequently missed or multitasked meals and snacks. It doesn’t need to be an hour-long affair either. Even 10–30 minutes will give you the opportunity to step away from whatever you have going on, eat with intention and bring the enjoyment back to eating.
2. Turn off the tech.
Whether you feel productive multitasking during meals or enjoy eating dinner during your favorite TV show, distracted eating leads you to eat more and feel less satisfied afterwards. When hunger hits, turn off the TV, close your laptop and put your phone out of sight. This “no technology” rule also works wonders to curb late-night snacking in front of the TV.
3. Check in with your hunger.
It’s not uncommon to eat out of habit or simply because it’s what others are doing around you. Whether it’s ordering a muffin with your morning coffee, making a daily trip to the vending machine or indulging in some happy hour apps with co-workers, most of us eat socially or out of habit, but both are forms of distracted eating. Instead of just eating on auto-pilot, quickly check in with your hunger level. If you don’t feel any of the physical symptoms of hunger, like an emptiness or grumbling in your stomach or a twinge of hanger (hunger-induced “anger”), hold off on eating until you do.
Whether you’re frequently tied to technology, cram too much into your workday or eat out of habit, distracted eating has a big impact on what and how much you eat, not just in the moment but later on in the day too. By eliminating distractions, making time to enjoy meals and checking in with your hunger level you’ll effortlessly consume fewer calories and derive more enjoyment from eating.