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Eating On the Go Could Lead to Weight Gain

27 January 2016

We are constantly in a rush every single day and don’t quite have enough time to eat breakfast at home before leaving for work. The solution? (or at least we believe) is to eat on the fly…

A study made by the University of Surrey from the United Kingdom published in the Journal of Health Psychology has discovered the negative effects of eating on the go (eating on the fly). People who are eating while walking may increase their food intake later in the day leading to weight gain and obesity. This habit triggers overeating more than any other form of distractions like watching TV, eating and working in front of the computer or talking to a friend.

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Walking is a form of distraction that can alter the ability of a person to process the impact eating has on hunger, this is according to Prof. Jane Odgen. This means that when the brain is preoccupied during an activity, humans have the tendency to forget that they have already eaten and may crave for more food after finishing the last meal.

Again, Prof. Odgen emphasised how distraction might affect food intake:

“Fullness is not only the result of brain and chemical reactions, but a perception that is influenced by learning, emotion and distraction. If we eat ‘on the go’ or in front of a computer, we will feel less full as our attention is diverted away from the meal and we don’t learn the association between food and mealtimes.”

Most young professionals do this on their way to work. Eating while walking is often regarded as a form of exercise which is a good excuse for overeating later on as a reward to one’s self.

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The Experiment

To back up this claim, the research team conducted an experiment involving 60 women who were required to consume a cereal bar whilst walking along a corridor. When the experiment was complete, the 60 participants answered questions and were asked to perform a taste test with the following foods: chocolate, carrots, grapes and potato chips. The researchers took note of how much each person consumed after the taste test. Results revealed that the participants who were eating while walking during the first stage of the test consumed more food during the taste test and the astonishing part was, this group ate five times more chocolate!

In this same study, dieters and non-dieters were examined under three different conditions:

1. Watching TV (short clip)

2. Eating while walking

3. Talking to a friend

The result? Second group (Eating while walking) were more likely to overdo it during a meal than the other 2 groups who were examined.

Focus Your Attention On the Food

Can you still remember what your mum used to tell you when you were a kid? “Don’t be in a hurry, chew your food well!” This is true, in fact Lori Rosenthal a registered dietitian at Montefiore Medical Centre in New York City said she counsels her patients and tells them this sound advice “to practice mindful eating”. When you eat, take time to enjoy your food, be aware of what, where, how and why you eat. This is an essential part of the process in order to manage your weight.

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Food takes about 20 minutes before the brain and stomach register feelings of fullness. Slow down when eating and pay close attention to what you eat so you will feel when you are starting to get full and stop before the time you realise you are overeating. Not only through walking do we feel distracted, but with a lot of things when we are too busy to notice. Stop before you surpass the point of overeating.

Tips to Enjoy Your Meal

Here’s how you can savour every bite:

1. Focus on the food and how you feel

2. Turn off the TV, laptop / computer and put away your cellphone and other gadgets (this is no easy task but well worth it)

3. Eat slowly and chew your food well, I mean really chew it good

4. Before work, give ample time to prepare your food and eat your meal at home to avoid eating while walking. Sometimes it may be worth getting up just that bit earlier (your body will thank you for it)

These tips won’t take so much of your time, believe me you’ll experience big changes to your body, health and happiness when you savour your food down to the last bite. Take a break and practice the conscious process of thinking about your meal and the amount of food you will eat.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog and it added some kind of value to your life. If you found it useful, we'd appreciate it that you could please share it with those you know. Knowledge is power and we all have the ability to effect change.

Together we can get Australians healthier. 😊

Tam x

*Disclaimer: the information in this article is intended purely as information and not health advice. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure and one should always seek expert advice from their trusted health practitioner.


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