You just nailed a Pinterest recipe for the first time or you popped a gigantic bag of popcorn before you plopped down in front of your TV. You’re feeling pretty pleased with yourself. By the time you actually turn on the TV, the media streaming console, load the application you want to use, and find the show you want to watch, however, you’re crunching on kernels or staring at a half-finished, un-Snapped/Instagrammed plate.
We’ve all heard from scientists, parents, and old ladies at Best Buy that watching TV while eating is a horrible idea guaranteed to result in imminent death. In less exaggerated terms, they’re not wrong. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that people who eat while glued to the boob tube tend to miss their bodies’ cues for fullness and go on to eat 10% more than they normally would. But who hasn’t ignored a notification while watching How To Get Away With Murder?
Swipe-dismissing your body’s alerts proves to be considerably more detrimental than ignoring more pictures of your aunt’s newest hobby and we’ve reached a point where the shows we watch aren’t the only culprits of our distraction. If you’d like to eat at normal pace, but don’t want to say goodbye to your flat screen friend, here are some tips to help.
1. Use small tableware.
Using smaller plates and even smaller cutlery can both limit portions and the size of the bites you take. As for snacks, pour that popcorn into a cereal bowl and save the rest for later. Focused you knows you don’t need the entire bag, but couch potato you loves a forearm covered in butter.
2. Choose healthier snacks.
A study in the journal Psychological Science revealed that unfocused eaters are more likely to gravitate towards sweet, sour, or salty foods in order to feel full. Grab some lightly/unsalted nuts or your favorite fruit, so even if you manage to overdo it, you’re getting a healthy dose of nutrients.
3. Avoid watching visually or emotionally intense content.
The American Medical Association published a study which found people who watch attention-draining media like an action movie consumed 65% more calories than those who watched an interview. If you’re constantly looking at the screen, you’re definitely not looking at your plate, which often means that your signal to stop eating is an empty plate. Watching satirical news shows and late night television via your streaming applications can provide the entertainment you seek without forcing you to constantly look at the screen. You can also:
4. Watch a podcast.
Most podcasts are essentially radio on the internet, but many often have live video streams that can be replayed later or dedicated YouTube channels. Because they’re designed to be heard, you can easily ignore the screen while also being able to more quickly watch an actual show or movie afterwards. Especially useful for people living/eating alone, podcasts can also simulate the fabled dinners of yore, during which people held conversations. Weird, right?
5. Play a game while you watch the show.
Photo Credit: Magnus D
If you’ve ever played Monopoly or any drinking game, you have the attention span required to make this tip work for you. Depending on how well you know a particular show, or if you’re re-watching a movie, you can establish a set of rules that dictate when you can hold your plate and when you can eat. Ideally, these would be centered around the actions of supporting characters, recurring locations, and other small, but dependable details.
Example: Quantico– You can only hold your plate when the show is in present day or the main classroom at Quantico. You can only eat when Shelby is upset with someone or Simon is on-screen.
You can make your rules as intricate/relaxed as you deem necessary. It will simultaneously expose significant chunks of the filmmaking process, give you a greater appreciation of the entire cast, and help a seven minute dinner turn into a 30 minute one.