New research suggests that eating ‘on the go’ may thwart people who are watching their weight. The study, involving three groups each with 20 women, found that among women who were currently dieting, eating while moving had an undesirable effect: They ate substantially more than other dieters a short time later.
In the study conducted on 60 women, half of whom were dieters, the researchers randomly assigned them to three ‘distracted eating’ groups. In one, women ate a cereal bar while walking around for five minutes; a second group ate while watching TV; the third ate while having a conversation.
A short time later, all of the study participants were offered snacks, including chocolate, chips, carrots and grapes. Overall, dieters who had walked while eating their cereal bar ate more calories at snack time — and about five times more chocolate — than other dieters.
Eating on the go did not make non-dieters indulge in chocolate, however.
One possible reason for this is that people who eat on the run may not be fully aware of what they are eating, or they may feel like they ‘deserve’ more food later on because they only had “a bite on the way.” And dieters may be especially prone to that mindset. Because they are habitually denying themselves, they may overeat when they feel they have earned some extra calories.
People who sit down to eat ‘mindfully’ are also more likely to choose nutritious foods and have other healthy habits, while those who eat on the run may be downing a lot of processed convenience foods.