By Rick Maughan
Are you eating as you read this? One in three Americans can’t eat a meal without being on their phone – according to new research.
A study into the eating habits of 2,000 Americans found many of us are increasingly distracted when eating and 29 percent say their phone now accompanies EVERY meal that they eat.
Even more than that- over half of those studied say their phone is a mainstay at most of their meals and only 17 percent admit to never having their phone at the table.
The study, commissioned by, Nutrisystem, a leading provider of weight loss products and services, found distracted eating is a prominent part of many meals and it’s getting more common.
In fact, 35 percent of those aged 18-35 can’t be without their phone for every meal- with phone usage at every meal decreasing the older you are.
And it’s not just phones that take our focus away from the food we’re eating, 72 percent often watch TV while eating.
Incredibly, when asked what makes eating a meal more enjoyable, Americans were more likely to say watching TV than they were to say conversations with friends and family.
So, what is the impact of all of this distracted eating? It affects the quality of food we prepare, the enjoyment of what we eat and even the amount we wolf down. We are constantly in motion and eating so quickly that we rarely have time to let our bodies tell us we’re full and we can stop eating.
“Early research has shown that taking a mindful approach to eating may help you lose weight and consume fewer calories and fat,” said Courtney McCormick, Corporate Dietitian at Nutrisystem.
With our attention ever-demanded by our tech, our engagement with food is often reduced. 34 percent of Americans polled said they eat so fast in front of their TV or while on their phone or tablet that they can’t believe how quickly their food has been devoured.
With our minds often elsewhere while eating, controlling our food intake becomes trickier and we often don’t hold back on the amount we chow down on and the impact that can be having on our overall health. In fact, the average person studied said they eat past the point of feeling full three times a month typically.
“What we’re eating, how much, and how often—those are the things we think about when we’re trying to lose weight. The part we probably focus less on, however, is how we eat. And that is just as important. And it starts with putting down the phone and turning off the TV.”
With all that over-eating, it’s no wonder that 41 percent of adults freely admit they have no idea what a correct portion size is.
And, whether we do know the correct portion size or not, that doesn’t help our willpower. 57 percent of Americans studied said they regularly find it hard to control how much they eat.
That could be why the average meal Americans eat is nearly 50 percent larger in portion size than the recommended amount – with 1.46 times the correct portion estimated.
Portion control is clearly a hard thing to master and not everyone is willing to embrace the change. 29 percent said they would rather learn an entirely new language than learn healthy eating habits such as correct portion control.
McCormick added: “Americans portions have become so big. And because people are used to eating out, they consider portions at restaurants to be the correct size, when they’re often four times as large. Learning portion control is key to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.”
While we’re not so good at getting the amount we eat right, that doesn’t stop us thinking about what we’ll eat. Americans think about food seven times a day on average, with dinner being the most daydreamt meal.
And if seven times a day seems low to you, you might be in the three percent of Americans who said they think about food 31 or more times a day.