Distracted eating can be hazardous.
By Matthew Kadey, MS, RD
If you are scrolling through your Insta feed while shoveling in lunch, don’t expect to pick up on flavor nuances in your food. Cleverly executed research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition postulates that this type of distracted eating may play a role in the overeating that is contributing to the current obesity crisis.
Forty-one participants were provided with set amounts of higher- and lower-sweetness chocolate milk of equal calories while performing a highly distracting or less distracting task. During both trials, brain activity was measured using magnetic resonance imaging.
In the hours following, food intake patterns of study subjects were collected to determine what impact the highly distracting task had on ad libitum consumption. It was revealed that distraction during consumption altered neural taste processing in a way that made the sweeter drink taste less saccharine. This was a predictor of subsequently eating more calories.
With these findings in mind, the study authors suggested that being more mindful about how food tastes as we eat it could help clamp down on overeating. The lesson? Stop liking those adorable cat videos while spooning up your oatmeal!