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Five Tips on How to Take Control Your TV Habit

May 9, 2019. In exploring triggers to overeating, most people find that much of it takes place at night in front of the TV.  TV and food form an unholy alliance for overeaters.  The typical pattern is that after a stressful day, collapsing on the couch with the TV remote in one hand and a snack in the other is almost irresistible.

By Kathy Murray - LCSW - Psychotherapist and Integrative Health Coach, Duke Diet and Fitness Center.

An article in JAMA in 2003 reports that there is a lot of evidence that TV watching increases the risk of obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.  It cites that the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 50,000 middle-aged women, found that for every two hours the women spent watching TV each day, they had a 23% high risker of becoming obese and a 14% higher risk of developing diabetes.  

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There are several reasons for that:

Television burns fewer calories than any other activity and also displaces time for physical activity and social relationships.

People eat more when watching television because they are distracted and overindulge without even noticing it.  

There is strong evidence that exposure to food ads contributes to overeating and weight gain.

The good news is that reducing TV watching can help with weight loss.

The good news is that reducing TV watching can help with weight loss.  The JAMA article cites that even light activities such as standing, walking around the house, and moderate exercise can make a difference.  Specifically, the article reports that “30% of obesity cases and 43% of Type 2 diabetes cases can be potentially prevented by following a relatively active lifestyle – such as less than 10 hours a week of TV watching and more than 30 minutes of brisk walking a day.”

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Five specific suggestions are:

1. Structure your TV watching as you structure your meals

Choose to watch your favorite programs for a limited amount of time and turning it off when your chosen program is done.

2. Tape shows to cut out TV ads

Get up and move around during TV ads.

3. Do not eat when watching TV

Eat a specific pre-measured portion of a snack.

4. Find alternative activities to watching TV

Relating to family members or friends might be a good start.  There are also many good suggestions at the link below. 

5. Keep your hands busy with something other than food

Such as knitting, sorting photos, coloring, cutting vegetables, etc.

Yes, there is a wonderful world outside of TV land.  Start exploring it as you take off the pounds. 

Television Watching and Other Sedentary Behaviors in Relation to Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Women:   JAMA. April 9, 20030-Vol 289. No. 14

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