This new study confirmed that multitasking isn’t always a good thing.
We know it’s easier said than done, but if there’s one time during the day to be present and not engrossed in your phone it’s at the dinner table. A new study commissioned by Nutrisystem shows just how common this habit is: 1 in 3 Americans can’t get through an entire meal without being on their phone.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, the study surveyed 2,000 people about what they do during their meals—and 29 percent said they use their phone. Even worse? Another 35 percent of people from age 18 to 25 said they need to have their phone next to them during every meal.
And that’s just for phones: 72 percent of those surveyed said they actually prefer watching television to conversing with their dinner companions.
Here’s the thing—using tech during mealtimes makes it easy for us to binge on more than just Netflix. The habit might seem harmless, but it can affect you more than you think. There can be serious health consequences if you regularly focus on your screen instead of your meal (or who you’re eating with.)
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“This is one of the golden rules of nutrition—it is so important to put down the phone and turn off entertainment during meal time,” says Jamie Vespa, MS, RD, Cooking Light’s assistant nutrition editor. “If you’re not present at meal time, the concept of mindful eating goes right out the window, and it’s so easy to make poor choices without even thinking twice about them.”
Vespa says there’s ample research to show that people are much more satisfied when they’re focused on their meal.
“We are not meant to multitask during meals. Focusing on what you’re eating is important, and so is taking smaller bites, properly chewing, and enjoying the flavors that you’ve diligently cooked,” says Vespa.
Distracted eating, as some experts call it, can lead to unhealthy portion sizes as you chew your way through a television show or scroll through your Instagram feed. It’s also more likely that your brain will recognize you’re full if you were actually cognizant throughout the entire meal.
Taking a much-needed tech break can do more than just bring clarity to your mind—it can also help you shed a few pounds and reconnect with your loved ones during dinner time.