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Device-free dining: How often do you eat without the presence of technology?

The internet is a vital tool in many of our lives, but what does it mean when it begins to take over your precious mealtime?

by: Tessa Purdon | 29 Jan 2019
man with earphones eating sandwich

I'll be the first to admit it: I eat lunch (most days) in front of my laptop, at my desk. Not because I necessarily want to, but because it means I can multi-task and get more done during the hours that I'm in the office. But the thing is, often I don't remember later what I've eaten or even what it tasted like. And I know I'm not alone... 

Cooking Light reveals that 1 in 3 Americans are on their mobile phones during a meal time. There have also been countless studies which prove that eating while looking at a screen is seriously unhealthy, but how bad could it be? Well for one, you're likely to eat more (and therefore put on weight), says Dr Howard LeWine of Harvard Medical School

But apart from having one too many Chuckles during a Game of Thrones binge, the very act of eating while you're halfway through an email or watching a cute cat video, can be detrimental and have serious social, emotional and physical implications. 

Remember before we had social media or portable devices, people used to have conversations at the dinner table - and actually look each other in the eye? 

"Eating together is a way to get to know others better and strengthen relationships between members of a group," revealed a Cornell University study.  But how does this social 'glue' supposed to work when someone (or everyone!) at the table has their eyes locked onto a screen? How much connecting is actually taking place IRL? It's no wonder relationships begin to suffer and anxiety levels escalate.  

Five years ago The Washington Post published an infographic showing the number of people who were doing other things while on their smartphones. 12% were using it in the shower. How is that even physically possible?! Clearly I'm not the early adopter I thought I was... 

We've also been told that eating in front of a screen can make you eat faster. I definitely think there's some truth in this... you should see the speed at which I wolf down a box of popcorn at the movies. Eating too fast can cause complications with your digestion, says Health24. Which isn't ideal in the long-term. 

It would appear that the next generation won't have any qualms about being plugged into a screen 24/7... because sadly the behaviour is being modeled for them (ever seen a family in a restaurant where the children are plonked in front of iPads?). No judgies, Parents! But the fact is it happens. 

So what to do about it? Because it feels like technology is taking over our most primal pastime. I wish I could say I won't ever eat in front of a screen again (let's be realistic). My hope though is that I'll start to become more aware of when I'm doing it... and then stop and ask myself "is this really really what you want to be doing while you bite into the delicious pasta or sip the special glass of Chenin?" 

Life really is too short to be multi-tasking. 

TELL US - do you ever eat in front of a screen? What are your thoughts on tech-free eating? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @Food24

Images via Getty Images

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