Binge Watching and Snacking is Killing You!

August 17, 2016

Mindless eating is one of the worst things we can do for our waistlines and overall health.

Eating when we’re not paying attention… mindless eating is one of the worst things we can do for our waistlines and overall health. Whether your multitasking and working, watching TV on your iPhone or iPad, binge watching Netflix, or munching a granola bar while looking for Pokemon, distracted eating can wreak havoc on your body, decrease satisfaction from your meals and lead to poor meal choices.

Research even suggests that slower, more thoughtful eating could help with weight problems and maybe even steer some people away from processed food and other less-healthful choices and towards whole fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Dubbed “mindful eating,” paying attention to our meals even if we haven’t fully prepared them ourselves could be exactly what we need to battle the bulge. Based on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you at the moment, these techniques have been proposed as a way to relieve stress and alleviate problems like high blood pressure and chronic gastrointestinal difficulties. In light of the new research, we all might want to put down the phone, close the computer and pause our Netflix feed, starting with our next meal!

Here’s what can happen if you continue to focus on the screen while eating:

First off, you’ll make unhealthy meal choices, which affect your entire body, starting with your teeth. Sweets and refined carbs cause a drop in pH levels in the mouth towards acidity that wears at tooth enamel leading to tooth decay.

Next up, the gut. We know we are supposed to eat more probiotic and fermented foods for gut health, so what happens when we mindlessly eat highly processed and sugary foods? The bacterial diversity that you are trying so hard to promote decreases – i.e. the number of “good” bacterial strains, the ones that do everything from strengthen immune function to help you lose weight, diminish. Need to get back on the good bacteria bandwagon? Reach for plain yogurt with live and active cultures, kimchi, kefir or kombucha.

Even your liver takes a hit! Excess sugar and junk food in the diet promotes liver disease. The liver processes excess sugar and turn it into fat… and all that fat damages the liver. Swedish researchers looked into what happens to the liver after feeding 20 year olds two fast-food meals a day for a month, and the results were depressing! Eating this way caused spikes in the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase or ALT- which doctors’ use as an indicator of liver damage. 

So where to start to get back on track? Put the screen away. Close the computer, turn off the TV, set your phone aside. Pay attention to your food choices and make mindful choices. This small step will go a long way in helping to promote overall health and wellness in your body, and might even help you reach your optimal weight.