SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. culture of multitasking, especially while eating, might fuel America's widening obesity problem, a food expert said.
Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of supermarketguru.com, said: "Sometimes we're even so focused on something else while eating that we continue to poke around our plates only to realize upon looking down that we've devoured the entire meal."
A recent Finnish study found those who reported "work burnout" had an elevated likelihood of turning to food in times of stress, while a previous Harvard study suggested a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems, Lempert said.
Dubbed "mindful eating," paying attention to meals and what is being eaten is based on the concept of mindfulness, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around a person at the moment.
"Our brain has a direct connection to our gut; digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system. Researchers also believe that eating while distracted by activities like driving or typing might slow or even stop digestion -- similar to the bodies fight or flight response," Lempert said in a statement. "Poor digestion reduces our body's ability to extract nutrients from our food leading to malnutrition."
If constantly on the go, start slow and eat at least one meal a week -- it should take about 20 minutes -- with no distractions, Harvard researchers suggested.