Anyone who has emptied a bowl of chips while watching television knows that you can eat more than planned when you’re not paying attention. But a new study suggests that eating a meal while distracted also can mean more calories down the road.
In a meta-analysis of 24 studies, researchers at the University of Birmingham (U.K.) found that distracted eating increased the amount of calories consumed at a meal by some 10%. More intriguingly, though, the researchers found that it also increased the calories consumed at subsequent meals by a whopping 25% or more. Researchers believe that 25% spike occurs because there’s a strong link between calorie consumption and the strength of memory of what was eaten at a previous meal.
In a Reuters report, the researchers said they believe such findings might motivate the development of a mobile phone app that reminds people to focus on the food in front of them. The findings also suggest that weight management plans should incorporate strategies to encourage conscious eating, according to the researchers.
You don’t need a dietician to try conscious eating at home. Here are 5 tips on how to slow down and enjoy the food in front of you:
1. Turn off all media, including cell phones.
2. Beautify your dining space with candles or flowers.
3. For one meal, try eating with your non-dominant hand.
4. Put your fork down between each mouthful.
5. Imitate a monk and eat a meal in silence.