Eating snacks and watching TV are not good for the heart. While it has become a common practice to ease down and relax in front of the TV, recent lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic have added to the practice of eating in front of electronic screens. The restricted outdoor activities due to lockdowns have left limited options for both children and adults. Digital screen time has increased. Children are attending online classes, and spending most of their free time playing video games and watching their favorite programs on TV. This may lead to an increase in cases of myopia (a condition in which nearby objects appear clear but far away objects are not seen clearly). Increasing dependence on electronic screens may have a negative impact on childhood development also. For more reading– Obese people are more at risk during Covid-19 <<= Click here.
“For my clients who look forward to eating while watching TV,” In the evenings, it’s because it’s their way to relax and turn their brain off, “says nutrition therapist Alisa Rumsey, MS, RD, and owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness.”
Why eating snacks and watching T.V.- Not good for the heart?
Teenagers and adults who regularly sit for long hours watching electronic screens and eating unhealthy snacks are at an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels). The metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
It was found in a study that teens who spent six or more hours in front of screens were 71% more likely to have metabolic syndrome compared to those who spent less time watching electronic screens.
It has been observed that people who do not eat snacks while watching TV or other electronic screens are not associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. While people who are habitual of eating snacks and watching TV are more at risk of metabolic syndrome. The risk factors increase with the increase in screen-watching time.
Moreover, eating snacks and watching TV is not good for the heart because it may lead to overeating or improper chewing due to distraction. Even reading books while eating is also considered another form of distraction. Overeating and eating with improper chewing may lead to risk factors for heart disease.
As per psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, ” It’s fine to sometimes have a snack in front of the TV, but when it becomes a repeated pattern, or when eating and watching TV become cognitively linked, then it becomes an unhealthy pattern.”
Eating and watching electronic screens—This leads to distracted eating.
Eating in front of electronic screens may lead to distracted eating. There are more chances that you may be paying more attention to what is happening on the screen than to your food, leading to distracted eating. It makes your food less satisfying. Distracted eating may lead to overeating. For more reading: What are the adverse effects of smartphones? = Click here.
As per studies, it was found that we tend to eat more when distracted, like when watching electronic screens. This may lead to obesity, a risk factor for heart disease. For more reading: What are the preventive risk factors for heart disease? = Click here.
“If your show is an hour-long, you might continue to eat throughout that time period.” Dr. Albers says.
How to stop eating snacks and watching TV?
The following are a few suggestions that may help to avoid eating snacks and watching TV.
Eat before watching TV;- Eating and watching TV may lead to ignoring our body’s cues that your stomach is full. Thus, eating before watching your favorite programs may help you to avoid indulging in overeating.
Mindful Eating: Eating food with a focused mind helps us avoid overeating. The added advantage of experiencing food at its full capacity is the colors, textures, smells, tastes, and flavors. This helps with digestion also.
Utilize commercial breaks:-Do some of your work during commercial breaks. It may help to avoid overeating.
Take the portion of your food out: Before sitting in front of the TV, take the portion of your diet on your plate.
Eat slowly:- It takes around 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness. Eating slowly provides sufficient time to trigger the signal from your brain that you are full. The feeling of fullness prevents overeating.
Eat less than required:-Stop eating before the feeling of fullness to avoid overeating.
Eat a healthy diet: Avoid consuming an unhealthy diet that contains trans fats. Choose a diet containing fiber, wholegrain with protein, and healthy fats like olive, canola, sunflower oils, nuts, seeds, and fish. For more reading- Fats are the most important part of our food. <<= Click here.
“The take-home message is that limiting your screen time is important, but when it is not possible, avoiding snack consumption may help you reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome,” said lead researcher Beatriz Schaan.
I wish everyone a healthy, disease-free life.
(For awareness purposes only).
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