Don't eat while distracted: why is it so important?
You have probably experienced the disappearance of a large bucket of popcorn in the first minutes of the film. And it likely happened without your notice. Imagine this happening every time you combine a meal with watching TV, reading a book, or talking to a friend. The result of such unconscious food consumption? Overeating.
This happens due to our specific brain functioning.
Thalamus - brain traffic controller
Our brain has a section called the thalamus. This is a traffic controller responsible for distributing a large number of signals coming from different senses. The thalamus decides which information can go to the cerebral cortex for processing and which cannot. Without the thalamus, the cortex of the major hemispheres would be exploding with a huge flow of information.
How does multitasking at mealtimes encourage us to overeat?
When we eat, the thalamus sends information about taste to the large hemispheres for further processing and analysis. But if we also focus on watching TV or socializing while eating, our visual and auditory systems additionally become involved in this process. As a result, there is a large flow of information from several sensor systems. And information about taste may simply not pass through the thalamus, instead getting filtered out. This may lead to you not even being aware of what you have just eaten. Therefore, you end up consuming significantly more than you really need to feel satisfied.