Healthy Eating

7 Simple Habits to Combat Distracted Eating

Support your weight, digestion, and more!

By: Lexy Parsons

Are you guilty of eating a rushed breakfast in the car, snacking as you scroll through Instagram, and shoveling in a few bites of lunch while simultaneously responding to work emails and attending to your kids? If you said yes to any of the above, you’re not alone! With our “go go go” mentality, eating while distracted has become all too common. Sure, we’re understandably busy people with long to-do lists. However, multi-tasking your way through life isn’t always the most productive solution — especially when it comes to eating. In fact, there’s research to suggest that distracted eating can lead to increased sugar cravings, calorie intake, weight gain, and impaired digestion. It’s even linked to poor mood and mental health. If this has become your norm and you’re unsure where to start, we’re here to help inspire you with research-backed healthy habits to combat distracted eating and simple tips to help you get started today.  

7 Healthy Eating Habits That Will Help Put a Stop to Distracted Eating

#1 Cultivate a Dedicated Eating Space

If you currently consider your car, couch, and even your bed an acceptable eating space, it may be time to rethink your setting. Rather than deem all areas “on limits,” designate specific areas, such as your dining table, solely for eating. These loose boundaries help signal to your brain that it’s time to focus on your meal, promoting a more mindful eating experience free from distractions. In turn, this can help reduce the likelihood of multitasking while you eat while also helping to develop a healthier relationship with food.

#2 Deem Your Eating Area a Tech-Free Zone

Put your phone away, close your work laptop, and pause the television screen! By eliminating these digital distractions, you create an environment that encourages mindfulness, allowing you to focus on (and actually enjoy!) your meal. Plus, there’s research to suggest that staying present can reduce calorie intake and even promote healthier snack choices. You’ll better recognize your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and ultimately feel more satiated and satisfied.

#3 Eat Your Meals Seated

If you’re an on-the-go eater, taking the time to sit down and enjoy your food can be a simple way to combat distracted eating. The mere act of sitting down helps you focus on your meal and prevents the rushed, mindless eating that often occurs when you’re standing or moving around. It also allows you to be more aware of portion sizes, including what and how much you’re eating.

#4 Portion Your Plate

Speaking of portion sizes, portioning out your snacks and meals can help you avoid overeating and maintain better control over your food intake. Instead of eating directly from a bag or container, take a moment to serve yourself a reasonable portion on a plate or bowl. To support your eating habits further, enjoy it mindfully in a distraction-free setting! In doing so, you’re much more likely to enjoy your food and feel more satiated from it, which will reduce the chances of overeating and mindless eating.

#5 Plan Your Meals

Planning your meals in advance can be a powerful strategy to combat distracted eating. By having a clear plan (or, better yet, a packed snack or meal), you reduce the temptation to grab whatever is convenient, which often leads to mindless snacking or overeating. Plus, by prepping your own food, you have full control over the ingredients used, which can make it easier to avoid sneaky ingredients and stick to your health goals. Consider setting time aside at the beginning or end of each week to plan out your meals, prep any ingredients, and hit the store if needed!

#6 Enjoy Company

Have you ever noticed that it takes you significantly longer to eat and drink your meals and beverages in the company of others? It’s not in your head! Sharing a meal with family or friends encourages conversation and connection, which helps you stay present and slows down your eating pace. While it’s always fun to dress up for a night out, consider cooking at home for a healthier (and cheaper) experience! Make a healthy pizza night, try a new FitOn recipe, or keep it simple with an easy-prep sheet pan meal.

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#7 Practice Mindful Eating

When was the last time you paid attention to the flavor and texture of your food, or slowed down your chewing to actually enjoy what was on your plate? Most of us struggle to eat mindfully, but it’s simpler than you may think! Start by taking smaller bites, chewing slowly, and tuning into your body’s hunger and fullness cues. This includes eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. Not only will this help reduce overeating and distracted eating, but it will also help enhance your relationship with food and make it more enjoyable.

The Takeaway

If you’re looking to minimize distracted eating and improve your relationship with food, these simple tips are a great place to start. From portioning your plate and planning meals in advance, to creating a distraction-free area in the house and enjoying the company of others, there are so many easy-to-implement tools at your disposal. Although it’s hard to break a habit, know that adopting these practices can lead to better digestion, improved awareness of hunger and fullness cues, and a healthier overall relationship with food. So, why not give it a try?