Can you lose weight simply by putting down your phone? Here’s what scientists say

20 june 2019, 10:00 ∙ 5 min read

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Alice Melody

Journalist. Cookie lover. Amateur figure skater. Appreciates life and believes in the cloudless future of our planet

Being constantly concerned about WHAT we eat and WHEN we do eat something, we hardly assess HOW we do it, and for no reason — the way and conditions of food intake are no less important. Let’s call it the “Third dimension of nutrition.”

Don’t get it wrong: attentively assessing the quality of products, fasting healthily, writing a nutrition diary (and bikini body workouts) definitely trigger positive changes. But when we dive deeper, there’s more to consider.

How your phone makes you eat more

According to the latest study published in Physiology&Behavior magazine, we’re prone to consuming more when dining with smartphones at fingertips. The reason behind this lies in a mere distraction: our brain isn’t able to notice and keep track of what we’ve just eaten; therefore we keep taking up piece by piece until we’re decidedly more than fed up.

Within this experiment, 62 people were being filmed while eating alone. Those who were using gadgets or reading magazines during meals consumed 15% more calories and ate more fatty food comparing to participants who were totally focused on chewing.

Consider this — it takes about 20 minutes for our brain to start sending signals that turn off appetite. If you’re not paying attention, your memory isn’t able to store and process the information about the food intake, so you’re likely to get hangry again way sooner.

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On top of that, a previous alarming survey claimed that one in three people can’t imagine eating without a smartphone. 2000 Americans were asked about their dining routine, and the answer was perplexing. The same percentage of people scan gadgets on a dinner date. Well, phubbing is a new discourtesy, guys.

What’s for lunch? Chatting and Swiping!

As astounding as it may sound, smartphone deprivation in young adults overtakes food deprivation. The group of researchers at University at Buffalo has found that college students prefer toying with their gadgets to eating favorite snacks.

Wait, what? Looks like humanity got a new order of basic needs. So the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchical pyramid called “Physiological needs” may well include smartphones next to food, water, warmth, and rest? A new plot for the Black Mirror’s scriptwriters here.

smartphone pic 1

While participating in the research, 76 youngsters, aged 18 to 22, were not allowed to eat for three hours and use their phones for two hours. Then they were asked to accomplish a computer task either for time to use their smartphones or for 100-calorie servings of their favorite snack. After the initial choice was made, the amount of required work increased.

Scientists were surprised that smartphone reinforcement far exceeded food reinforcement in spite of the hunger! Students were much more willing to work for time spent with their smartphone. Moreover, they were ready to pay more hypothetically earned money for access to the online world.

The digital patchwork we adore

The duration of staring-at-the-screen time throughout a day increases rapidly and steadily. Should we take a look at the stats, we will be baffled by the reality. In 2018, people across the world gave away roughly up to 3 hours a day to check what was happening on social media, the latest report from Global Web Index revealed.

Not much yet — you might have thought. Let’s not count chickens before they hatch; as for the U.S., add four hours watching Live TV, 47 minutes on a tablet, nearly 40 minutes diving into Internet on a computer — we’ve got 11 hours per day cut off the real world, as Nielsen group attests.

It means 2617 screen touches including taps, swipes, and clicks, at least 46 notifications, 74 attempts to check email within a single day. Furthermore, the stronger we get attached, the more our days resemble an overwhelming information patchwork of doubtful value.

How to eat mindfully

Once you start looking at your dining habits through an enlarging lens, you automatically get a toolkit to turn things for better. Isn’t it easier to make a slight adjustment to your mobile usage routine rather than struggling to get rid of those extra weight points and unwanted body changes afterward?

smartphone pic 2

So if you’d rather lose weight and keep it off or just maintain a slim waistline and stay healthy, consider applying these pieces of advice. Or at least look through and evaluate them as they require no money, minimum efforts, albeit they may be life-changing.

What you can do right now

  • First and foremost, realize that this addictive habit is undoubtedly related to overeating and weight problems, even given that scientists provide us with partial details and conclusions so far.

  • Leave your phone in the car, in a handbag, in a pocket. Put it as far from your plates as you can.

  • Mute sound notifications and vibrations at meal times. If you don’t hear it, you’re less likely to react immediately and forget about food.

  • Outsmart your phone-prone eating using your smartphone! Absurd as it may seem, some mobile applications give helpful advice on how to cut on distractive addiction to screens, use gadgets mindfully, avoid multitasking, and prevent you from carelessly being drawn at potentially harmful amusements.

  • Chew meticulously. This helps your gut digest foods and take the most out of the variety of nutrients.

  • Create a phone-free zone for your family in the kitchen or dining room. Set clear boundaries and rules for everyone. A meaningful unconstrained conversation is infinitely more beneficial for your family bonds.

  • Use chopsticks! It’s easy to get used to mindful eating since you have to hunt the whole bowl of rice grain by grain.

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