Fitness guru Emmet Rushe explains what causes people to eat 20% more calories at mealtimes.

There are numerous reasons that Ireland is in the middle of an obesity epidemic.

  • Poor food choices
  • Over consumption of calories
  • Over consumption of alcohol
  • Lack of exercise

The list could go on and on.

As a society, we are spending more and more time in the virtual universe.
Tablets, smart phones, smart televisions, interactive gaming.
The internet has opened a whole new world of possibilities that was once the stuff of sci-fi movies.

However, this brings with it its own issues when it comes to our health and especially our weight.

We no longer pay attention when we are eating a meal.

  • We eat while on our phones
  • We eat while on our tablets
  • We eat in front of the television
  • We eat in social situations with friends.

While these things have become common place and widely accepted, it might surprise you to know that eating whilst distracted can increase our calorie intake by as much as 20% more than normal.

Whenever we sit down to eat a meal, no matter if the meal is a good or a bad one, if we are constantly distracted whilst eating, our chances of over eating at that meal goes up by 15-20%.

This has also been found when out in social situations with company or friends.
The increase in over consumption of food was shown to be around 18% greater when with people we are familiar with.

However, the same scenario wasn’t found when people were in social situations with strangers, even though the same distraction through conversation etc. was observed.

The effects of over eating were not wholly due to distraction, but people seemed more aware of what they were eating and how much when eating with strangers as opposed to eating with friends.

What can we learn from this?

If food intake is enhanced when attention to food and self-monitoring are impaired, we need to be more mindful during our meals.

Reducing the distractions from t.v, social media, phones, tablets and online gaming whilst eating will play a huge role in this.

When out with friends, be mindful of the amounts of food you are consuming and try and realise when you are full as opposed to eating until ready to burst.

Don’t feel obliged to consume foods or drinks that are not in line with your current dietary habits, out of a misguided politeness to company.

All the scenarios listed above with become more apparent with the impending festive season being around the corner.

It will be very easy to stray from your current plan, or just to over consume the foods you normally eat because of more distractions and social situations.

Keeping a level head and always having a grasp on the situation, will leave you better placed to get through it relatively unscathed, nutrition wise.