Want to Lose Weight? Count Your Distractions, Not Your Calories


If you are trying to lose weight (and who isn’t?) you may want to pay attention to your ears, not your stomach.

An interesting piece, by Allison Aubrey from National Public Radio, cited several studies that indicated that the amount and substance of what you eat is directly related to your surroundings, particularly auditory, during meal time.

“I think there are lots of factors that come together to ultimately influence how much we eat,” says Suzanne Higgs, a psychologist at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. She’s studying how our state of mind influences what we eat.

Two groups of people were studied. TV on and TV off.  It’s no surprise that those who were eating while watching TV ate more during the lunch, but later in the day when given a chance to eat some cookies, the group that had the TV on during lunch ate more cookies as well.  It was almost as if they were “programmed” to eat more because they were distracted, and ate more the first time.

Another researcher, Andy Woods, studied the effect of background noise in a restaurant.  He found that as the noise gets louder, people gradually lose their ability to taste salt and sweetness.  He also found that if the people liked the music playing in the background while they ate, they perceived the food as tasting better.

One theory is that noise may distort the brain’s ability to gauge other senses. They plan to continue testing their hypothesis.

Paying attention to the act of eating is something very few of us do.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has devoured an entire XX-large bucket of popcorn during a 2 hour movie and then thought “What’s for dinner?”

healthy food

Is playing with your food considered a mealtime distraction?

We live in a world of distractions, but you may want to pay attention to what is in your ears and around you as well what’s on your plate the next time you sit down to a meal.

Categories: diet, healthy diet, nutrition, weight loss

Tags: , , ,

7 replies

  1. I munch when I’m nervous – I tend to do it at night, in bed, when I’m blogging or virtually networking. So I ditched the chocolate bars (THAT wasn’t helping!) for grapes, dried apples and walnuts or almonds!

    • I have a cup of almond roibos tea. The sweet taste and the fact that it takes me a while to finish is a real plus! Try freezing your grapes as each one will last longer and you’ll eat less 🙂

  2. I believe that TV also makes you eat more food than you actually need. Because it distracts you. Great post.

  3. I find this is so true for me. TV is a major trigger. Also when I find food journalling helps because it makes me more aware. I find also that when I’m at a social event I eat more than I really want to, just to please the host or whoever bought the food. I think it’s in my culture -rejecting food is like rejecting love and even though I try I always feel bad. Wish it wasn’t so.

    • Food journaling is a great idea! I know we all use the TV as “background noise” when we eat. I guess it all started with TV dinners in the 50’s
      It’s very interesting how food plays such a big part of culture. Thanks for your comments as always!


  1. Want to Lose Weight? Count Your Distractions, Not Your Calories (via The Savvy Sister) « My Body Is My Hobby

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