According to Google trend data, the search term lockdown stone has received a 990% uplift in searches within the last month alone. Such growth reveals the nations awareness that their newly adopted lockdown lifestyle habits are having an impact on their overall health. As we leave our homes for essential purposes only, Netflix Bridgerton marathons and long nights in are the norm. As a result, much of the UK is experiencing the gain of the ‘Covid stone’. Here, Health Practitioner Dorothy Bruce at the entertainment brand SoapHub reveals why binge-watching TV can lead to excessive snacking, how different genres impact eating habits and how to curb the cravings.
The Genres that impact our eating habits
‘The current climate has seen streaming services such as Netflix evolve from a ‘nice to have’, to a ‘must have’’, states Bruce. ‘Television has become an integral component in our lockdown survival kit, as we use it as a tool to workout, educate and relax. However, it is wise to be mindful of the impact several hours of TV time can have on your eating habits. Studies have indicated that there is a direct link between clocking up several viewing hours and weight gain. In fact, genres such as action and horror that are known to increase the heart rate see viewers become 98% more likely to snack. The likes of Love is Blind and Bridgerton pulling at your heart strings? Tear jerkers are shown to increase the likelihood of snacking by 55%. When we experience a surge in emotions, our brain automatically seeks reward for comfort, hence why genres can play an instrumental role in our eating habits. I recommend having some healthy snacks near by if you are watching a show that is likely to stir intense emotion.’
Excessive TV time is a marker of inactivity as watching the screen barely burns more calories than sleeping. with up to a mere 100 calories an hour hence, its correlation to weight gain. A lack of commute or necessity to build an ‘office ready’ appearance has led many to embrace late nights and lie ins. Lockdown has overhauled our daily structure and played havoc with our hunger triggers and sleeping patterns alike. As a result, lots of us are eating in front of screens and at later times then we are used to. ‘Eating shortly prior to going to sleep increases the likelihood of nightmares’, says Bruce. The late-night consumption of foods signals to the brain that the body is still required to be active. This can lead to vivid dreams or even nightmares which, in turn paves the way to poor sleep hygiene. We have seen that long periods in front of your favourite series increases the likelihood of snacking however, it can also spark a vicious circle of watching TV + snacking + poor sleep + snacking to curb tiredness post television binge. If you know that you have been watching your favourite show for a few hours, make a conscious effort to pause the snacking. This can help curb the likelihood of snacking the next day as you work to obtain ultimate sleep hygiene.’
Research suggests that we eat twice every 4-5 episodes within a series. This is in addition to main meals. Advertisements serve as visual triggers and fuel the desire to snack. Viewing ads for tempting foods and drinks plants the seed to snack. ‘As the brain relates TV time to relaxation, advertisements can also train the brain associate food with down time’ reveals Bruce. ‘This can be dangerous territory as a person can begin to immediately reach for snacks as soon as they settle in to watch their favourite streaming service. Skip ads if you can. This will avoid planting the seed to consume additional foods.’
Want to avoid snacking? Here is how:
- Yes to snack, no to screen.
The simplest way to avoid TV impacting your eating habits is to implement the, ‘no screen rule’ when snacking or consuming meals, this includes phones, laptops and I pads. It is common that we consume foods in front of a screen. Consequently, we are not giving the food in hand our full attention and before we have had a chance to really enjoy it, it has gone. Do not cut out snacks, simply give them your full attention with no screens on hand. This will increase the chances of gaining full satisfaction and curbing the urge to snack excessively.
- No plate, no entry
Cut down the calories consumed by plating food before it enters your television space. In other words, do not eat from the packet as a whole. This will aid in portion control and limit the temptation to eat more than desired.
- Stretch and screen.
Get active. Make a conscious effort in between episodes to stretch, walk around and reposition. This will limit boredom that often leads to snacking.
- Snack = Kettle switch on
When you are tempted to snack, switch the kettle on instead. People are often amazed how a hot drink can satisfy their food cravings and limit their intake of sugar.