Turning off the TV for Health & Healthy Weights

By Robyn Priebe
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The more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to recommend getting rid of our TVs, or at least using them less.  Now that said, I'll admit I'd be the biggest hypocrite in the world if I told other people to stop watching TV completely, because I definitely use mine on a daily basis.  However I do feel that TV watching tends to get in the way of a lot of changes we may be trying to make to improve our health.

For example, I find that so many people associate TV watching with eating.  Long gone are the days of having dinner at the dining room table, and more and more of us tend to eat in meals in front of the tube.  Pairing those 2 activities may make us crave food when we watch TV even if we are not hungry.  In addition, food related TV shows, and certainly commercials, may trigger environmental-exposure-based food cravings.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it may be tough to practice mindful eating while we are distracted by the television.

Also, if we are watching TV, chances are it's cutting into activity time, causing us to move much less than we should.  My other concern is TV's effect on sleeping patterns.  Staying up too late to watch TV, or TV's effect on melatonin production, may prevent us from getting enough shut-eye.  Inadequate sleep may increase hunger and carbohydrate cravings.  It also may prevent us from getting up early in the AM to pack lunch, work out, eat breakfast, etc….. all those healthy habits so many people may be trying to adopt.

Something I stumbled upon that reinforced this thought was information from the National Weight Control Registry.   Established in 1994, this registry tracks behaviors and habits of individuals who have successfully lost (and kept off) a significant amount of weight.  One thing that I found interesting off of their Research Findings page was that 62% of the people registered watch less than 10 hours of TV/week.  Makes you think, doesn't it?

How much TV do you watch in a day/week?  Do you pair TV watching up with any healthy habit?  Do you think TV gets in the way of  reaching any of your health or weight loss goals?

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