Published on November 27th, 2015 | by Nancy Basile0
Binge Watching Equals Binge Eating
Have you ever accidentally made an association between two of your favorite things? I recently realized I have created a strong association between two of my favorite things, a TV show and a food, without meaning to do so.
We’ve all read and heard about research that shows TV viewers are getting fat because we associate watching TV with eating. This Harvard Medical School article says watching TV stimulates us to eat more calories than we normally would. This Fast Co. article says that watching action movies drives us to eat fattier foods than, say, romantic comedies. Weight Watchers has an entire section of articles on their website that tells us how to set up our living room so we don’t fall prey to unintentional weight gain. (Hint: Get rid of your coffee table and replace it with a treadmill!)
I know that eating in front of the TV is really bad for me. In my head. But my heart and soul don’t seem to care. When the kids are asleep, and my husband is away on business, there is nothing more delicious than queuing up an episode of Arrow while I pop open a local IPA, grab a bowl of tortilla chips, and peel back the plastic on my favorite hummus.
What has happened as a result of that night-time indulgence, however, is that every time I watch Arrow, nay, every time I see Stephen Ammell (the star), I want a beer and hummus. I have become the proof of Pavlov’s theory, although unwittingly. So if I want to keep my weight from ballooning, I have to dig deep for a Herculean strength of will to fight this new association. (Although, watching skinny Thea and super-skinny Laurel wobble around on their towering heels helps me set that beer back down.)
What should you do in front of the TV instead of eat? It helps to keep your hands busy. If you have a hobby, like knitting, TV time is the perfect time to indulge that habit. If there are mindless chores that need to be done, like folding laundry, save it for Outlander. If you’re a gal, you could paint your nails during your favorite show. If you’re a guy, Game of Thrones is a great time to set up your fantasy sports picks. And everyone could benefit from some sit ups, push ups, lunges or squats during commercial breaks. (Or you can always switch out your coffee table for a treadmill.)
When I figured out I had created a habit without realizing it, I started wondering, what other food/TV associations do I have? Where Arrow makes me want hummus, Once Upon a Time makes me want a bowl of crunchy-sweet cereal and milk. True Blood gives me cravings for apple slices and smoked gouda. Bob’s Burgers makes me want a salad with rotisserie chicken, avocado and red wine vinagrette. (I usually catch up on cartoons during lunch.) Every single one of those meals goes better with a brew, of course.
Thanks to binge watching, we’re all indulging in too much binge eating. What TV show/snack associations do you have?