Many employees these days eat lunch at their desks, because it seems like a harmless way to cram more work into the day.
They might not be so casual about it if they knew the habit was helping them pack on extra pounds. A study in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people who ate while distracted ate more, and felt less full after lunch, than those who focused on eating.
Researchers served a nine-item lunch to 44 participants who were split into two groups. One group was asked to eat lunch while playing a computer game of solitaire. The second group ate lunch without distractions.
The participants who were distracted by the game felt less full after lunch, according to the study, led by Rose E. Oldham-Cooper, a researcher in experimental psychology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. Even 30 minutes later, the solitaire-players gobbled down more snacks when they were offered, compared to those who had focused on eating. Worse yet, when researchers asked the participants to remember what they had eaten for lunch, those who had been playing solitaire had a much harder time remembering what they had consumed.
The findings may 'help to explain the well-documented association between sedentary screen-time activities and overweight,' the study says. In addition to crowding out physical exercise, working or playing games on a computer may also cause us to gobble down larger amounts of food without thinking about it or even remembering that we have eaten.
The findings hold true for me. If I make the mistake of putting a bag of chips or a box of crackers on my desk at deadline time, I often pack in the whole thing without even realizing it. If multitasking makes our minds wander from the tasks we think we are getting done, as we have posted in the past, then why should eating be any exception?
Readers, do you notice your eating habits, or the amount you eat, changing when you eat at your desk? Do you tend to pack on pounds when you lunch while working? Have you found any good ways to avoid the perils of distraction while dining?