How Consuming At The Desk Might Assist You Lose Weight

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How Eating at the Table Could Help you Lose Weight

We all made it. We grabbed our plate to sit in front of the TV or devoured our dinner at the kitchen counter and leafed through social media or email. We think we're saving time, but this approach to eating could make us fat – and stressed out.

We know that eating at the table means we are more likely to consume less. Recent research has shown that when we eat in front of the TV, not only do we consume more at that particular meal, but we also have an incredible tendency to consume more calories later in the day.

Sitting to eat has also been proven to pull us out of the combat or flight mode that so many people live in all day. When we sit down for dinner, we put ourselves in "relaxation mode" and our bodies know it. Our parasympathetic nervous system is activated (see below *). Not only that, the social connection it makes with our loved ones is essential to our wellbeing.

Time to relearn the habit?

Two decades ago it was common for most Irish families to have dinner together. Eating at the table was the norm. My father worked late so we could eat without him, but on weekends he made a concerted effort to get us all to the table. I would throw my eyes up in real teenage fashion, but I secretly enjoyed that time with my family too. It wasn't always about discussing how our day went or how world politics went. sometimes it was just a matter of having a few light conversations about pretty much anything.

I am aware of this when I am raising my own children. But I know it needs attention, especially since my kids want to jump off the table so often as soon as they chew their last bite! Whoa, take it easy. "Shouldn't it be about slowing down?" I hear myself thinking.

Nowadays, some houses don't even have a dining table. In our clinics, I am often shocked to hear that people not only have dinner now and then, but every evening in front of the television. Even worse is the habit of eating in the car – according to recent research from the US, it appears that one in five meals Americans eat in a car.

Please, let's not follow suit (we know obesity rates are alarming in the US and we unfortunately follow, but I hope that eating in cars won't be the next … unless, of course, your job is on the go and there is just not a choice).

I particularly remember one client I had who ate dinner on his lap in front of the television every night. At first he thought I was crazy when I suggested that he eat at the table in silence, mostly because he lived alone and just couldn't imagine doing it. But after just a week of trying this new habit, he was converted. He said it not only slowed him down while eating, it also gave him a "meditative time" to sit and relax – and relax a little from day one – before the television went back on.

This man lost three stones and, better yet, was still holding them up two years later.

What about our kids?

Recent, fascinating data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that students who do not eat regularly with their parents are significantly more likely to be pregnant in school.

Children who do not have dinner with their parents at least twice a week were 40 percent more likely to be overweight than children, according to a research presentation at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria in 2014. On the contrary, children who have dinner with their parents five or more days a week have fewer problems with drugs and alcohol, eat healthier, perform better at school, and report being closer to their parents than children who are less having dinner with her parents, according to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

If we are not to ourselves, at least we start to eat at the table for our children – even if that means only twice a week.

* *The parasympathetic system: The parasympathetic nervous system is one of three departments of the autonomic nervous system. Sometimes called the rest and digest systemWhen activated, our saliva production increases, digestive enzymes are released, our heart rate decreases and our muscles relax. It enables us to digest our food, undress, and sleep soundly. In some ways, ideally, we should only eat in this state – both for our digestion and for our brain – but especially at dinner.

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