A new study found that people who lost weight and keep it off had fewer TVs in their homes and more exercise equipment. Previously, a UK study found that people who ate lunch while watching TV scarfed significantly more post-lunch cookies and had a tougher time recalling their lunch meals.
It makes sense because TV is distracting, so paying attention to what and how much you’re eating and Dexter at the same time is really tough. And when you’re not tuned in, it can feel like you didn’t eat, even if you downed several hundred calories.
Personally, I love TV – it’s a huge escape for me, but it’s not exactly a healthy habit, so I enjoy it with three self-imposed ground rules:
- I always do something else while watching TV, preferably standing up, like folding laundry, doing the dishes or putting together outfits. Studies show that getting into a “TV trance” on the couch can cause you to burn fewer calories than sitting and reading. Getting off your feet can break that spell and burn an extra 30-40 per hour.
- I don’t allow random acts of snacking while watching the tube. If I eat anything while watching TV, I pre-determine what and how much I’m going to have based on my calorie budget. And I try to munch during commercials. It’s a lot easier to pay attention to how delicious and juicy a globe grape is when I’m not caught up in a character’s drama.
- I limit myself to no more than two hours a day. As I type “two hours” I can’t believe I would even spend that much time with the telly, but hey, some nights Lost and Project Runway really help me forget about deadlines, bills, global warming and everything else I can’t control. But, once I’ve reached my 120 minute limit, I switch it off.
I’ve thought about banishing TV all together but it’s something I don’t really want to live without so I’m finding a happy medium.
What about you - is TV one of your traps? Does it lure you into eating more than you intended? Have you ever chosen the remote over a walk? What about your computer? Please share your thoughts!