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Cut Out Mealtime Distractions, Help Manage Weight?

Slowing down, focusing on food could keep you from overeating later, study contends

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Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University at St. Louis, said the research reinforces what dieticians have known for a long time: If you don't pay attention to what you're eating, you will eat more. But she said the new research adds something to the science: Eating while distracted will also affect what you eat later.

"That's a big part that people may not have really thought about before," she said.

Yet for many busy families, slowing down meals may seem impossible. "We've become a grab-and-go-society," she said. "People will eat meals in less than five minutes."

Diekman suggested that even those who dine alone should set a place at the table, cook a meal and enjoy it. "Don't automatically turn on the TV," she said.

Even if you're eating while working at your computer, you can still focus a bit more on the food, Diekman added. "Eat, and then look at the computer, and then eat a few more bites," she said. "Slowing down may be important because it allows you to focus on your food."

For Diekman, the message is simple: "It's all about making a meal an experience and not just eating food," she said.

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