Keep the TV and Phones Off When You’re Eating

Electronics threaten to make 'mindless consumption' a genuine health concern — here's how to fight it

It seems like one of the simplest things to do — yet many of us struggle to find time to actually make a meal at home and sit down to eat it, either on our own or with family and friends.

Do we even want to mention that the TV is often on — and everyone’s using their cell phones?

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If you and your family are struggling with or trying to be mindful of health and weight, cooking at home and keeping the electronics off while you’re at the table is one big step in the right direction. (It should go without saying, but it doesn’t these days.)

Adults who never watch TV during family meals and eat mostly home-cooked food are much less likely than others to be obese, a recent study of more than 12,000 Ohio residents found.

Those who cooked all their meals at home were 26 percent less likely to be obese, compared with those who ate some or no home-cooked meals.

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About half of those surveyed said they ate family meals together six or seven nights a week. Just over a third of respondents ate family meals together about every other day — and 13 percent ate meals with family one or two days a week.

Countless studies have shown that we mindlessly eat more while we’re preoccupied with doing other things, so it’s no surprise this latest study found adults eat more when they’re watching TV. Those who kept the TV off were nearly 40 percent less likely to be obese than those who kept the tube on during meals.

Fresh foods and home-cooked meals — and knowing exactly what will be on your plate — have the biggest impact on your waistline. Those who cooked all their meals at home were 26 percent less likely to be obese, compared with those who ate some or no home-cooked meals.

Related: Biggest Mistake You’re Making at Mealtime

The takeaway, the authors hope: Eating together with your family is important and beneficial on so many levels, including your health. But the quality of the meals made at home and the notion of having few distractions is what really matters the most for health and life.

“Turn off the TV when having family meals and use it as a time to check in about the day, current events, and fun future plans,” Jerica Berge, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who studies family meal practices, told Reuters.

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