Dangers of ‘distracted eating’
You’ve heard of distracted driving, but how about distracted eating?
With college and pro football kicking into high gear, many of us will mindlessly chow down thousands of calories while watching the players knock heads on the big screen. Experts say it’s easy to consume far more calories than we need while our attention is focused on the game.
We’ve heard the jokes about “food comas” and “pigging out,” especially while watching sports, but overindulgence is no laughing matter, says Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, who is also board-certified in obesity medicine. “College football and a big bowl of chips can be an unhealthy combination,” DeBruler says. “It’s easy to lose track of your intake when you’ve got your eyes on the TV.”
And with the holidays not far behind, most of us face nutritional land mines and constant temptations to overindulge. Grazing our way through food offerings is a main contributor to weight gain, says Dr. DeBruler.
“It’s possible to have consumed most of your daily calories before halftime,” DeBruler says. “Handfuls of nuts, candy and chips can add up in a hurry. Your mind is sometimes fooled into thinking you’re just eating small amounts, but total calorie intake is higher than you might imagine.”
Even gaining a pound or two can be detrimental and begin to creep up year after year. Obesity is a serious health threat.
Being overweight increases the chances of having a stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and certain types of cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DeBruler’s advice: “Plan ahead of time on what and how much you will eat. It’s smarter to put a limited number of your favorite things on a plate and stick to just eating that amount instead of being open ended. It’s important to eat mindfully rather than mindlessly.”
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.