After a taxing day, plopping down in front of the the television with your dinner plate can be awfully alluring. In a sense, it’s multitasking: you consume a meal and unwind while simultaneously updating yourself on the latest news or enjoying your favorite TV show. You really shouldn’t make a habit out of mixing dinner and television. Taking time to enjoy your dinner is important to your health and overall well-being.
The Importance of Dining as a Ritual
Especially if you have a family, dinner should be made into a nightly event. Often times, dinner is the one time of the day when everyone can break free of their busy schedules and come together. In the case of small children, establishing dinner as part of a routine will set them up for healthier eating habits as they grow older. Why? Because coming together to dine makes the focus not only about eating food, but about spending quality time with one another and enjoying good company and conversation.
It also establishes regular eating habits. Eating dinner at a set time, like 6:30pm, will ward off late night mindless snacking. Sitting down at a table without any distractions, like television, keep the focus on what’s happening right at the table. It also helps you to slow down and enjoy your meal. Talking between bites gives your stomach adequate time to signal your brain that it’s full.
Even if you live alone or with a roommate, opting not to sit on the sofa and watch television while you eat is a good idea. Keeping the television off keeps you focused on enjoying your meal, not scarfing it down while watching your favorite reality show.
Watching Television Leads to Mindless Eating
Anything you do in front of the television has the potential to become mindless and rushed–especially eating. You wouldn’t write an important paper or proposal in front of the TV, nor would you try to have a phone conversation with someone with that kind of distraction in front of you. With dinner, it shouldn’t be any different. If the television is on, you become more engrossed in the show you’re watching than the food you’re eating. In a way, watching television demeans the dining experience.
Think about the last time you watched television or a movie while eating a meal or a snack (like popcorn). You probably ate more than you originally intended. When your attention is on the TV, you don’t pay attention to the rate at which you’re eating your food or how much you’re consuming. Especially with snacks, the consumption can be nonstop. With dinner, it can lead to extra helpings that you don’t really need. Try to make dinner a daily ritual void of any electronic distractions.
In general, meals shouldn’t be rushed. Taking time to eat slowly and enjoy each bite means you’re less likely to overeat. Keeping television out of your dinnertime allows you to focus on food and conversation and eat properly.