The Worst Time To Eat?

While most people know it’s important not to eat a lot in the evening, especially late at night, there’s other times throughout the day when consuming food is a bad idea. A new study abstract published in the Journal of Health Psychology showed the worst time to eat for quick weight loss is when…walking.

“When you’re walking, you’re engaged in so many activities, like paying attention to where you’re going and trying not to run into things,” says Susan Albers, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in mindful eating. “It’s next to impossible to actually focus on what you’re eating, which can keep you from processing how it’s having an impact on your hunger.”

Albers and fellow study authors also say that because walking is such a great form of exercise, many use it to justify eating later on in the day. If you must eat when walking, Albers recommends wearing headphones.

“They can help block out external noises and minimize the number of distractions,” she says, “which means you can be more mindful about what you’re eating.” Albers offers additional suggestions for mindful eating:

  • Sit Down: “Only eat when you’re off your feet,” she says, noting sitting helps you focus and subsequently make better choices. It also gives your body time to recognize exactly how much you’re eating.
  • Chew Slowly: “Whether you’re eating while walking, chatting with friends, or watching TV, it’s common to match your eating pace to whatever pace that’s around you,” Albers says. She suggests eating with your nondominant hand to slow yourself down. “And if you must eat while walking, maybe hum a mellow tune in your head, which can help you slow down,” she adds.
  • Simplify: Move away from your laptop, turn off your phone…do whatever you need to do to minimize distractions. “Even if my cell phone is across the room, if I hear it ding, my attention goes from my plate to who’s trying to contact me,” Albers says.

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