By Dr. Abby Bleistein, Healthful Life MD
It is completely understandable with the fast pace lifestyle of today, people are looking for ways to unwind at the end of the day. Many people chose to unwind by watching television. They come home, make dinner, kick off their shoes, turn on the TV and mindlessly eat dinner as they flip though the channels.
While in theory this seems like a great way to check out for a bit and recharge, the habit of dining in front of the television creates a link between television watching and eating.
Not only have studies shown people consume up to 25% more calories when eating while distracted, but eating in front of the television can also generate a trigger-habit loop.
The cue to the habit is turning on the television, the habit is eating, and food becomes the reward reinforcing the habit because food releases dopamine, the hormone that triggers a pleasure response. Once this loop is created, the pattern occurs without the frontal lobe of the brain getting involved at all and voilà, people are eating mindlessly, often without realizing they are even doing it, much less being aware of how much they are eating.
How can we combat mindless television eating?
- Practice mindful eating. Do not eat in front of the television. Ever. Make it a rule. If you want to eat a snack in the evening, turn off the television, sit at the table and eat. You will discover yourself eating less, and possibly that you do not even really need to eat at all.
- Reset your trigger-habit loop. This can be done a couple of different ways. One option is to choose a different reward for the cue of watching television. For example, if relaxing in front of the TV at night is part of your self-care routine, have a cup of tea instead of snacking. It will take some mental energy initially to reset the pattern, but after a few weeks, you will institute a new habit. Another way to reset is to find a healthier self-care routine all together. Perhaps reading, or playing a card game.
Click here for a Guide to Mindless Eating that provides exercise to help you develop mindful eating habits.
Take your first step towards getting healthy from the inside out today! Visit Healthful Life MD online to learn more about our comprehensive weight loss solutions and schedule a free consultation with our in-house physician, Dr. Abby Bleistein. Or call 720-336-5681 and we can answer questions and help get your complimentary appointment on the calendar.