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Tip: Eat Lunch Away from the Computer

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Playing Scrabble online with friends or stalking an old flame on Facebook can be totally addicting. But recent research suggests zoning out in front of the computer during lunch might actually lead to overeating. So stop checking those status updates (c’mon, fess up!) and consider focusing on that yummy salad or sammy instead!

Gimme a Break - The Tip

Americans spend an average of 8 ½ hours a day staring at their computer screens, TVs, and cell phones. So take a break at lunch! Research suggests that extra screen time could wreak havoc on the eyes— and maybe even the waistline. In one study, subjects who played Solitaire on a computer while chowing down reported feeling less full than non-distracted participants. The computer gamers also ate nearly twice as much when presented when a post-lunch snack.

Need another reason to focus on food and only food during lunch? In another study, researchers found that food-focused diners showed enhanced “meal memory,” (damn, that turkey sandwich was good!), which kept them feeling satisfied longer. Subjects who were asked to read a newspaper while eating, by contrast, had more trouble keeping their hands out of the cookie jar after lunch.

Spending too much time in front of the computer can also contribute to eye problems like computer vision syndrome, which can cause pesky symptoms like eyestrain, blurred vision, and light sensitivity. Powering down mid-day can have some social benefits, too. Studies suggest people who regularly socialize with others (and no, email doesn’t count!) display better cognitive function— just from chatting it up with friends.

Living in a technology-obsessed culture makes it hard to step away from the screen, even for meals. But it’s important to have some computer, cell phone and television-free hours every day. When lunchtime rolls around, try taking a walk outdoors(fresh air— ahhh!), or getting together some co-workers for a team lunch. Interacting with real live people may seem foreign in the world of texting and Twitter, but studies show communal eating can contribute to a happier mood and healthier meal.

The Tip

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