Eat Mindfully to Take in Fewer Calories

Paying attention to what you eat can help you feel more satisfied.

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Medically reviewed in August 2021

Updated on March 15, 2022

Eating lunch at your desk? Good for productivity, maybe. But bad for portion control.

And research confirms it: It seems that eating when your mind is somewhere else—whether it's on a work project, a YouTube video, or a magazine article—can make you apt to eat more than you need to.

Food out of focus
In a study, men and women were served a lunch consisting of several different foods. Half of the participants played a computer card game while eating, the other half had a distraction-free lunch. After the meal, people who played the game reported feeling less full compared with the nongamers, and they ate twice as many cookies during a taste test 30 minutes later. The card players also had more trouble listing in order the food items they had eaten for lunch. 

Multitasking mayhem
A number of studies have shown that people tend to eat more while watching TV. But this study associates the effects of distracted eating with other activities. Basically, anything that takes your mind off of your food is a recipe for overeating. And the study extends the negative impacts far beyond the meal in question, showing how distracted eating even causes us to nibble more later in the day, too.

So do what you can to carve out quality mealtime, and notice—and make the effort to savor—every forkful off your plate.

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