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Pay Attention to Your Meals for Weight Loss

Food DiaryReading a magazine, watching TV or listening to the radio while you eat may unconsciously lead to you eat slightly more at mealtimes than without those distractions, but it also may lead to eating much more hours later, suggests a new review of the research. The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This suggests that distraction can increase intake regardless of conscious restriction attempts.

The researchers analyzed the 24 studies they identified that examined the effect of distraction, memory, awareness, and attention on food intake. All the studies had an experimental and comparison group. Three-quarters of the studies used cover stories so that the participants were unaware of what the scientists were actually investigating.

When focusing on distracted eaters, the study found that distractions linked to consuming moderately more food immediately. But the more significant effect of increased consumption was seen an hour or two later. It did not matter whether the distracted eaters had their food restricted or not, suggesting that distraction can increase intake regardless of conscious restriction attempts

The study also found that remembering meals appears to play a key role in food intake. Techniques such as writing down previous meals, using visual reminders of previous meals and focusing attentively on the meal linked with a reduction in later food consumption.

The experimental studies were all short-term and participants were generally a healthy weight.  But, the authors conclude, the results suggest that finding ways to enhance awareness and memory of food consumption may help regulate food intake.

Source: Source: Eric Robinson, et al. “Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating.” AJCN. First published ahead of print February 27, 2013

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