Eating on the go could be the enemy of weight loss, according to a small new study.
The study, conducted at the University of Surrey and published in the Journal of Health Psychology, looked at the eating habits of 60 women. Some were trying to lose weight, while others weren’t. The women were divided up into three groups, and each individual was given a granola bar.
One group was asked to eat the granola bar while walking around a hallway, another while watching a five-minute clip of “Friends.” The third group was asked to eat it while siting in conversation with another person. Then each woman was asked to complete a questionnaire and a taste test in which they had four different snack options: Chocolate, grapes, chips and carrot sticks.
Interestingly, those who were trying to lose weight ate more snacks if they’d eaten the granola bar while walking around. They also ate five times more chocolate.
Lead study author Jane Ogden, a psychology professor, concluded this may have something to do with being distracted while eating.
“Walking is a powerful form of distraction which disrupts our ability to process the impact eating has on our hunger,” Ogden explained. “Or it may be because walking, even just around a corridor, can be regarded as a form of exercise which justifies overeating later on as a form of reward.”
We’re not saying a “Friends” marathon will lead to weight loss — in fact, TV is another form of distraction that can lead to weight gain — but it is worth noting that if you’re not distracted while you eat, you’ll probably eat less.
This is known as mindful eating, or slowing down and eating with intention. Studies have shown that mindful eaters have lower BMIs. If you’re working on eating mindfully, try eating more slowly (chew that food!), shutting off electronics while eating, and focusing on flavor.
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