Dieters who eat on the run may increase their food intake later in the day, which can lead to weight gain and obesity, according to a Journal of Health Psychology study. To come to this finding, researchers divided a group of 60 women into three “distracted eating” groups. One group ate a cereal bar while walking around, while the other groups noshed on the same snack while watching TV or conversing with another study participant. A short time later, all of the participants were offered chips, chocolate, carrots and grapes. The women who ate while walking around consumed more calories at snack time — and about five times more chocolate — than the participants in the other groups.
Though researchers aren’t certain as to why this happened, they hypothesize that people who dine on the run may not be fully aware of what they’re eating. They also might feel entitled to more food because they were active earlier in the day — even if they didn’t burn off many calories.
Eat This! Tip
To stay slim, lead researcher Professor Jane Ogden recommends making every meal an “occasion.” Set the table, sit down with friends and family and savor the smells and flavors of your food. Doing so is practicing what’s called mindful eating. Not only can “tuning in” help you eat less in the present moment but it will also help you consume fewer calories throughout the day.