How to avoid overeating while binge-watching TV

CORP20170100_Binge_watching_blog_large_v2By Mara Weber, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, who works for Nutrition Services with ICU patients at the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.

Whether you’re watching hours of March Madness, having a movie marathon or binging on a TV series, I understand how easy it is to get caught up in your show and lose track of how much food you’ve eaten.

Have you ever sat down in front of the TV, only to get back up immediately to grab a snack? It’s like the coffee table isn’t complete without something sitting on it to munch on.

Here are some ideas that I try to make healthier choices when TV snack time strikes!

Drink at least 8 ounces of water first!

Thirst and hunger can easily be confused. Even if you still want a snack, you’ll be likely to consume fewer calories after a glass of H2O.

Eat before you grab the remote

Eating while multitasking can derail your diet! If you’re not looking at what’s going in, it’s easy to ignore your body’s cues that your stomach is full.

When you focus on what you’re eating, you're less likely to eat too much. Plus, you get to experience the food at its full capacity – the colors, textures, smells and flavors.

I tell my patients all the time that I love to eat so much I don’t do anything else while I’m eating; I sit there and just eat.

Do something during commercials

To keep yourself from grabbing the chips during a break, consider changing a load of laundry, transitioning through some yoga poses, knocking out a few sets of lunges and squats or washing the dishes from dinner.

Plan ahead for party food

Take any “special occasion” treat and find ways to tweak it in a healthy way for those times when you have friends over or want to kick back for a TV event like the Super Bowl or the Oscars.

For example: Instead of chicken wings, bake seasoned chicken breast chunks or cauliflower dipped in water then flour. Toss with hot sauce.

At the end of the day, if you’re eating healthy 90 percent of the time, go ahead and have the real thing on a special occasion!

Your diet is truly a lifelong habit. It should be healthy but it should also be livable and enjoyable.

If you MUST snack while you’re catching up on your DVR, try these ideas:

  • Portion the food out and put the rest away before you sit down.
  • Eat slowly and deliberately. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you’ve had anything to eat. It can be easy to overeat in that time, if you’re eating fast.
  • Stop eating BEFORE you’re full but once you’re satisfied.
  • Consider a snack a mini meal and make it nutritious.
  • Think nutrient-dense – high-volume and low-calorie. Buy most of your snacks in the produce section.
  • Skip simple carbohydrates. Pretzels? Potato chips? You’ll be hungry in 20 minutes. Pair a complex carbohydrate (think fiber/whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread or popcorn) with a protein or healthy fat source. You’ll be satisfied for longer.

Quick and easy healthy snack ideas:

  1. Walnuts and an apple

  2. Hummus and carrots

  3. Mozzarella string cheese and woven wheat crackers (such as Triscuits)

  4. Rice cakes and almond butter

  5. Half an avocado with salsa

  6. Granola and Greek yogurt

  7. A fruit/nut bar (such as a Larabar)

  8. A fruit/veggie smoothie

  9. Frozen grapes in place of a frozen sweet treat

  10. Air-popped spiced popcorn

  11. Kale chips

  12. Steamed edamame

  13. Fresh fruit cup

  14. Chia pudding

  15. 100-percent fruit-juice ice pop

  16. Celery and peanut butter

  17. Blended frozen mango and banana

  18. Hardboiled egg

  19. Fruit dip or pie filling: sugar-free cheesecake pudding mix combined with vanilla Greek yogurt and a little milk

Live healthier and stay inspired.

Get tips from Ohio State experts right to your inbox.