Many of us are guilty of living an eat-and-run life. You see, when you’re strapped for time and forever on the move, it’s almost impossible to find the time to sit down and have a healthy, hour-long meal — it just doesn’t happen.
While snacking on-the-go might be the only way to ensure you’re eating anything at all, it can also make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and real tough if you’re trying to shed a few kilos.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, researchers found that people who eat on-the-go may increase their food intake later in the day, resulting in extra weight gain and obesity — yikes! For the study, 60 females who were either dieters or non-dieters were examined.
They were all given a cereal bar to eat under three different conditions — during a five-minute clip of the TV show 'Friends', walking around the corridor and the other while chatting with a friend. They were then asked to complete a follow-up questionnaire and a taste test involving four different bowls of snacks, including chocolate, carrot sticks, grapes and chips.
Interestingly, the results found that dieters who ate while walking around or moving were more likely to eat more snacks at the taste test, some eating up to five times more chocolate than others. Even more so than the people who ate while chatting or watching TV, things we usually associate with mindless eating.
"Eating on the go may make dieters overeat later on in the day," said lead author Professor Jane Ogden. "This may be because walking is a powerful form of distraction which disrupts our ability to process the impact eating has on our hunger. Or it may be because walking, even just around a corridor, can be regarded as a form of exercise which justifies overeating later on as a form of reward."
"Even though walking had the most impact, any form of distraction, including eating at our desks can lead to weight gain. When we don't fully concentrate on our meals and the process of taking in food, we fall into a trap of mindless eating where we don't track or recognise the food that has just been consumed."
With our forever busy schedules, sitting down to eat is often out of the question. So, in order to keep yourself on-track, try following these simple tips;
- Plan ahead. Pack a healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks the night before and store it in the fridge. That way all you have to do is grab and go!
- Know your options. If you don’t have enough time to pack a lunch, become familiar with your area and lunchtime options. Pass on the fast food and make a beeline straight for the local salad bar or sandwich shop.
- Keep track of calories. While we know calories aren’t the be all and end all to weight loss, knowing what’s going in versus calories burned can really help. When you’re on-the-go it can be hard to keep up with what you’re consuming. Apps like My Fitness Pal can be a great tool to help you keep track of all your meals, snacks and sweat-induced activities.
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