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Cutting Out Mealtime Distractions May Help Manage Weight
Date:3/28/2013

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Too much multitasking could make you overeat, a new study suggests. So if you're finding it hard to reach or maintain your ideal weight, slowing down and savoring your meal might help.

Taking the time to focus on your food -- appreciating how it tastes and smells -- may keep you from snacking or overstuffing hours later.

Researchers have discovered that watching television may not just be doing what experts have long assumed: turning you into an exercise-avoiding couch potato. The couch isn't necessarily the problem -- it's that you're not paying attention to what you're eating. That tends to make you feel less full -- some people can't even remember what they ate and when -- which in turn causes them to eat even more.

"We have assumed TV was decreasing everyone's exercise but in principle it might be the distraction [that leads to weight gain]," said lead study author Eric Robinson, a research fellow at the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool, in England.

Being aware and remembering what you've been eating may influence how much you eat, so enhancing your focus and memory of your intake could be critical to helping you eat less, Robinson said.

Instead of consciously counting calories, people may be better served by thinking about what they're eating, noticing the taste, texture and aroma of the food, and chewing a little more slowly instead of chowing down a meal quickly, he said.

Robinson became interested in memory and its potential impact on food intake after reviewing studies of people who suffered amnesia or severe memory loss. Studies showed that people who were unable to remember something that occurred just a short time ago would eat lunch, and then, when served another meal shortly thereafter, would eat again -- even though they were presumably full.

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