Halfway through the movie, all she could feel was the grit of greasy popcorn seeds and salt at the bottom of the metal bowl. She licked her fingers unconsciously and turned to her husband and asked in a tone of accusation, “Did you eat my popcorn?”
Her husband looked surprised, “I haven’t moved from my easy chair in more than an hour.”
“Where did it all go?” She asked aloud in wonder.
Her husband knew better than to answer.
For many, this story hits home. You grab the bowl of ice cream and sit down in front of the television. Before long, you look down and realize that you don’t remember anything after the first few bites.
Chalk it up to distraction or “TV hypnosis,” but when you don’t pay attention to what you eat, you are likely to eat more than you intended.
Not only will you eat more in the moment, but there is a growing body of research that suggests that you will also snack more later. For example, in THIS STUDY (Link), women who ate lunch while watching television, later consumed more cookies than a group of women who ate lunch without TV, in part, because the TV watchers did not remember how much they had previously eaten.
It seems that the women in the study not only forgot what and how much they ate, but they also enjoyed their food less than those who did not watch television.
Food should be enjoyed and here is a simple two step plan to enjoy your food while you experience weight loss.
The first step to solve this problem is obvious: if you live in Utah and weight loss is your goal, don’t eat in front of the television or any other distraction. Many experts recommend choosing one location in the house to do all your eating. For instance, you might choose to only eat at the kitchen table or at the counter.
The second step is to eat “mindfully,” focusing all your attention on the textures, smells and flavors of your food. Chew the food slowly, savoring each bite. Turn off all the media while you eat so that you can fully enjoy and focus on the food. No music, no TV, no internet.
In an interview, Dr Suzanne Higgs, lead researcher of the study mentioned above and psychologist at the University of Birmingham, described mindful eating as focusing on your food’s texture and flavor while eating. She explained that this kind of “mindful” eating is the most effective way to reduce snacking.
Dr Suzanne Higgs explained:
“Our findings suggest that avoiding distraction like watching television or eating on the go is a good idea.
“We think [distraction is] linked to memory and the way it influences our food intake. When we are making decisions about what we are going to eat, we are unconsciously factoring in information from our memories about what our last meal was.
“If you interrupt that process by being distracted then you will see effects on the amount consumed. The reason why people ate more later after watching television was because it impaired the encoding of that meal into their memory.
“We have studied amnesic patients who cannot remember what they have just eaten. If we bring them more food then they will keep on eating.”*
So in short: distracted eating interrupts memory formation, creating a kind of amnesia. Amnesia leads to snacking. Mindful eating leads to powerful eating memory formation and helps reduce snacking.
Image © sumnersgraphicsinc – Fotolia.com
William Wood teaches Utah weight loss clients to lose weight in his Ogden Utah office. He also teaches mindful eating to clients all over the country by telephone and Skype. To contact him, fill out the form below, or call his office at 888-479-4421
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