Lose weight by paying more attention to what you eat and taking the time to remember what you have already eaten. That’s the take-home advice from a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from a team led by University of Liverpool psychologist Eric Robinson.
We’ve all heard the advice before, but Robinson’s team reviewed 24 previous studies published from 1997 to 2011 to make sure that the advice actually worked. If you eat while distracted, forgetting what you’ve consumed, then you could eat up to 50 percent more than the person who took the time to think about and remember what they ate.
And it wasn’t just that you ate more during the particular meal while you were being distracted by such normal activities as working, watching TV, or reading. You also ate more at later meals.
If you’re not paying attention in the first place, it’s easy to eat more than you intended — which torpedoes any serious attempt to lose weight. An infamous study by Mindless Eating author Brian Wansink showed that people in movie theaters would eat more popcorn during the show if they were given a larger container — even though the popcorn was stale. And the over-eaters even knew that the 14-day-old popcorn was off, admitting that it tasted “terrible.”
Distracted eating is a particular problem at lunch. More than 47 percent of workers eat lunch at their desks including 55 percent of working women — even though your average desk allegedly holds 400 times more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat. Yikes.
If that fun fact isn’t enough to make you pay attention to what (and where) you’re eating, then I don’t know what is.
According to the new study, if you take the time to remember all the food you ate at your last meal, you will eat less. And that’s the road to successfully losing the weight.