Never have time to sit down to enjoy a meal? Watch out, say researchers: Doing so could actually make you obese.
Published in the Journal of Health Psychology, researchers say that women who ate while on the go were more likely to eat more food later on during the day, causing them to consume more calories–something that could ultimately lead to weight gain.
That’s definitely not good news if you’re trying to lose weight.
“Eating on the go may make dieters overeat later on in the day,” says Jane Ogden, Professor and Director of the Ph.D. Program at the University of Surrey and lead author of the study. “This may be because walking is a powerful form of distraction which disrupts our ability to process the impact eating has on our hunger. 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.”
Recruiting 60 adult women who were either dieting or not dieting, researchers split them into three groups and asked them all to eat a cereal bar. What differed between the three groups was how they ate it, however. One group, for example, ate it while watching a five-minute clip of the TV show “Friends”; another group ate it while having a conversation with a friend. Another group was also advised to eat it while walking around a corridor.
After everyone consumed these bars, researchers set a bowl of snacks in front of them, asking them to fill out a questionnaire about these foods. What researchers wanted to really find out was how much they were tempted to eat, however.
Measuring how much they ate, they got their answer–those who had walked while eating were the most likely to consume more snacks.
But the most surprising part? This occurred even if participants didn’t report wanting to eat more food, say researchers.
“No effects were found for desire to eat,” write researchers in the online version of the Journal of Health Psychology. “But while those higher in restrained eating consumed less overall and fewer calories after watching TV or talking, they consumed more overall and more calories (specifically five times more chocolate) if the cereal bar was eaten while walking.”
So when it comes to eating, what you eat doesn’t necessarily matter–instead, how you eat may matter more.
What This Means For You
Struggling to lose weight? Then it’s time to nix your bad eating habits, say researchers. To minimize your caloric intake, never eat food “on-the-go”–instead, always sit down when eating a snack or meal. Although it may not seem like it makes a difference, research shows it forces you to eat fewer calories throughout the day.
Readers: How often do you eat home-cooked meals?
Eating “On-the-Go” Could Lead to Weight Gain, New Research Finds – AlphaGalileo.org
Distraction, Restrained Eating and Disinhibition: An Experimental Study of Food Intake and Impact of “Eating On the Go” – SagePub.com