Do you mindlessly munch when you watch TV? Many of us do. New research indicates that some TV shows may put you at higher risk for overeating. A 2014 study examined how people reacted when they watched different kinds of TV programs.

In this study from Sweden, women either watched a comedy show, an art lecture on public television or read a non-engaging passage for 30 minutes. The point was to test boredom and different levels of mental engagement. Afterwards, participants had access to both a high-calorie snack (M&Ms) and low-calorie (grapes) snacks, both presented in bowls. 

What happened? The boring show led to more overeating of the M&M’s and grapes. Although not significantly different levels, the boring TV increased the risk beyond the dull reading. The more bored the participants were, the more at risk they were for eating. It’s no surprise that boredom or lack of mental engagement can lead to mindless eating. When you aren’t fully present, you can zone out and lose track of how much you eat or snack to entertain yourself.

Let's face it, sometimes you just want to veg out and aren't interested in reading or doing a puzzle—something that requires 100% of your attention. The next time you are watching TV and want to relax on the couch but don’t want to mindlessly munch—pick a comedy, high drama, action or something that kick starts your mind!

To learn more about mindful eating from +20 top experts, sign up for the 1st annual, FREE online event (plus a free ebook on ending emotional eating). The goal is to deliver practical, inspirational, cutting-edge, clinical techniques, and innovative approaches to many of our unique eating challenges– body image, nourishing ourselves, overeating, binge eating, disordered eating, fad dieting, nutrition-linked health conditions, and much more.

Dr. Susan Albers is a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of six books on mindful eating.

* Watching TV and Food Intake: The Role of Content

 Colin D. Chapman, Hanna Å. Thune, Jonathan Cedernaes, Madeleine Le Grevès, Pleunie S. Hogenkamp, Christian Benedict, Helgi B. Schiöth

About the Author

Susan Albers, Psy.D.

Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a psychologist who specializes in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns and mindfulness. 

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