Dining While Distracted May Double Calories

Distracted Eating Woman

Between Texting, Liking, Tweeting and everything else we do to keep us from doing what we’re supposed to be doing it’s not surprising to hear that we’ve become a nation of mindless eaters.

I’m not immune to this form of eating amnesia. The chaos in my brain:

“I’m behind! I shouldn’t have gone for that run. When did I ever agree to doing that? Why didn’t I just say NO? Why are they emailing me again?  $%&!, it’s already 6:00 pm on the east coast, I missed her…again”

I abandon work, head to the kitchen, stand in front of the fridge and grab some cheese or  peanut butter. I eat while my mind continues to race with everything that I should be doing but am not.

This typical American ADD lifestyle is wreaking havoc on our quality of life and it may be one of the reasons why we’re gaining so much weight.

It’s well known that people who log the most screen-time (time spent in front of TVs, computers, tablets or smart phones) are at higher risk for being overweight or obese. New research is revealing why multitasking is so bad for your diet and makes us less satisfied with what we eat.

The research shows that sedentary surfers (online and channel) are more overweight, not only because they expend fewer calories, but because they’re distracted eaters. Eating while doing something else causes you to eat up to 100% more at your next meal or snack because the mind never fully registers what you eat, if you eat without thinking about eating.

A recent study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested the effects of  distracted eating (playing a computer game) on subjects’ rate of eating, satisfaction of the meal and amount eaten at the next snack.

The results showed that distracted eaters ate faster, consumed more calories, felt less satisfied and ate 40 to 100% more at an afternoon snack, compared to those who at lunch without distractions.

Downsides of Distracted Dining

* Eat Faster

* Consume More Calories

* Can’t Remember What Was Eaten

* Eat Up to Twice As Much At Subsequent Meals or Snacks

Help Your Mind & Body Feel Satisfied On Fewer Calories

To help me sort out what’s going south in my head when I mindlessly eat, I called  Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, co-author of Intuitive Eating.  Evelyn specializes in helping clients eat more mindfully and from internal (not external) cues. She’s an eating therapist…a dietitian who specializes in helping clients develop a healthier relationship with food and stop the negative patterns that you’ve gotten used to. (Think couples therapy for food.)

Here’s Tribole’s advice for beating distracted dining.

Just eat. Do nothing else when eating. If this sounds too difficult at first, start with just eating for dinner.  No TV, IPads, smart phone should be at the table.  Try to be conscious of eating while doing it, as that way your brain and body will be satisfied (read: fewer calories).

Eat at a table. Deskside dining is not healthy nor is eating in the car, on the train, couch, plane or other places where your mind is not present to eating.

Enjoy your meals. Think of meals and snacks as your “me” time. Doing this will make your food seem more special and, in the end, you’ll be more satisfied and less likely to overeat later in the day.


  1. says

    I think a good idea is to really take it as your “personal” time, and really treat yourself. It’s not about getting out the China etc when you are going to eat, but
    just so you don’t do anything else while you’re enjoying your meal.



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