Question to an expert: Is it true that eating in front of the screen is harmful

We are used to searching online for ANSWERS TO MOST OF THE QUESTIONS THAT HAVE ASKED US . In the new series of materials, we ask just such questions: burning, unexpected or common – to professionals in various fields. 

There are infinitely many opinions about the benefits and harms of different eating habits, they are often contradictory, although they sound convincing. Along with the misconception that drinking with meals is dangerous, there is another common idea – this time around having lunch in front of a screen. According to this theory, if a person does not focus on food properly, then digestive enzymes and gastric juice are not produced in sufficient quantities, which over time can cause problems with the gastrointestinal tract. Together with a specialist, we figure out what can really harm a dinner in front of a monitor or TV.  

“Federal Research Center for Nutrition, Biotechnology and Food Safety”   

There are no studies yet, the results of which would say that the digestive process is disrupted due to watching TV, reading, and anything else that distracts from eating.

Talk about how distractions can interfere with food digestion dates back to Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. When the animal was distracted by some strong stimulus, the secretion of gastric juice actually decreased. True, there are two but: firstly, it is not a fact that in humans this process proceeds in the same way as in dogs, and secondly, the stimuli were really strong – it was a sudden and very loud sound or very bright and an unexpected flash of light. Small noise, changes in lighting and environment did not affect the dog’s digestion.

So watching a program or TV series is unlikely to affect the secretion of the necessary enzymes or intestinal motility – and only some element of a horror movie that makes you startle can become a sharp irritant. But even in this case, there will be no harm to health from one time. It’s another matter if a person already has problems with the digestive system – gastritis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis – in this case, it may really be worth taking care of a calm environment when eating. But even here the key word is “possible”. It cannot be said with certainty that extraneous emotions during eating will aggravate the condition, and in order to give a more accurate answer, the results of targeted research are needed. 


The TV or computer is
a new type of stimulus,
and it more “distracts” the brain.
In such a situation, the latter
does not have time to receive a signal of saturation from the stomach – and the person continues to eat

But the habit of eating in front of the screen is still not so harmless – it just harms not the digestion process, but other aspects of health. Studies have been conducted where the condition of people who often ate in front of the TV was observed; scientists assessed the effect of watching TV shows and movies not on digestion, but on body mass index. It turned out that the habit of eating in front of the screen contributes to weight gain – and this is due to two factors. First, in such an environment, people often eat mechanically, without stopping when the feeling of hunger is gone. Secondly, many people are accustomed to accompanying rest by the screen with high-calorie foods like nuts, chips or ice cream. In addition to obesity, addiction to “couch food” can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes or hypertension – all because such foods contain trans fats, high amounts of sugar and salt.    

It was revealed that viewers of the action were eating more actively , even if they watched the movie without sound. Food advertisements that interrupt viewing further encourage eating further. In addition, from an evolutionary point of view, a TV or computer is a new type of stimulus, and it more “distracts” the brain. In such a situation, the latter does not have time to receive a signal of satiety from the stomach – and the person continues to eat. If you are familiar with this type of overeating, just try to distract yourself for a few minutes: get up, walk around the room – when you return to your seat, you most likely will not feel the appetite that you had a few minutes ago.    

At the same time, one should not strive to create “ideal” conditions for eating: perfectionism here, as in other situations, is not useful. On the Internet, you can find whole manuals, what should be the situation in the kitchen, the color of plates and walls, lighting, and so on. If all this affects appetite and digestion, then it is insignificant, and the authors of the recommendations are more likely guided by the desire to make a name for themselves than to make real benefits. It is not necessary to bother too much with creating the conditions for food. One has only to exclude possible strong and harsh irritants, not to watch aggressive programs and films, and, most importantly, to monitor the quantity and quality of food, listening to yourself. 

local_offerevent_note June 2, 2021

account_box mydietblog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *