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Why You Eat More When You Watch TV

by Kate Ferguson on March 29, 2016
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chips-843993_640

If you find yourself snacking away when you’re watching TV you’re not alone. The habit is in fact encouraged both through marketing and the way we consider watching a movie or a game an “event” that often involves hunkering down for a bit whether it’s a social activity or not. But there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to eating in front of the TV, since it can cause you to overeat by a lot.

One study found that some people eat more when they are in front of the TV because they can’t hear themselves chewing. A study done by both Brigham Young and Colorado State and tested this out by having two groups of people eat some pretzels. One group wore earphones with loud white noise, while the other group wore earphones with quiet white noise. The group who was listening to the loud noise ended up a whopping 45 percent more pretzels than the other group did.

The idea behind this of course is that when you can’t hear yourself chewing you might be more likely to keep the food coming. Other studies suggest that eating more in front of the TV just has to do with the fact that we are less mindful when we are distracted. When we are distracted while we are eating we are more likely to eat quickly without savoring the food that we’re putting in our mouths, or paying attention to how much we’re actually eating.

When we eat too fast we don’t give our body time to figure out its real hunger levels and send out the signal that we’re full…until it’s too late. Many people suggest never eating to the point of being full and rather stopping around the 3/4 mark since it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to fully register the food that we’re putting in it.

Plus it’s easy to imagine that we might be a little more lenient with the treats when we’re either distracted or just plain having a good time. A lot of TV watching is seen as a way to relax or is done in a social situation, both of which being situations where we might be more likely to eat something that we wouldn’t eat if we were quietly sitting down at the dinner table for a meal.

A lot of the food associated with watching TV are snacks, which generally aren’t being used as meal replacements but are actually being eaten in addition to our meals, whether we are really hungry or not. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be enjoying food while you’re enjoying the TV, but awareness is key. If you’re going to eat dinner while you watch TV just serve yourself a normal portion size and stop at that.

Try to remember to eat slow and taste what you’re eating while you do it to increase your feelings of satiation. If it’s snacking that you’re doing, you might as well make them as healthy as possible. But if you must eat some chips as opposed to some chopped up veggies, just portion some out in a small bowl instead of taking the entire bag to the couch.

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2 Comments
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  • Ben
    March 30, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I shouldn’t be thinking this but those chips look great lol

  • Micah
    March 30, 2016 at 10:24 am

    The distracted thing I’ve heard before but the chewing one is new. I wonder if that also has something to do with why we eat more when we are in the company of other people. I’ve read that as well

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