Put away the cell phone when you eat to weigh less

I walked into a restaurant the other day. There was a table with 6 people eating together, or were they eating together? Each one was bent over a smartphone. There was no interaction among the people sitting at the table. They were all mindlessly putting forkfuls of food into their mouths while engrossed with their phones.

So what? How can cellphones affect body weight?

It can have a lot of affect on weight. When we aren’t paying attention to eating a meal, we’re usually not paying attention to what or how much we’re eating. Mindless eating is often a cause of weight gain and inability to lose weight.

Cellphones at the table have other ways of undermining our weight-related goals.

According to some research (including a survey in the Glamour magazine body-image issue) social media is exacerbating dissatisfaction with our bodies.

Looking at photoshopped, filtered photos of celebrities creates dissatisfaction with our bodies. We want to look like what we see in the media, but we know it’s unrealistic to expect to achieve it. Most of us can admire celebrities, but recognize that their looks are their full time job. We don’t expect to ever win the “sexiest person alive” on the cover of the tabloids.

Scanning your friends’ Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, on the other hand, can trigger negative feelings about our appearance and body that are much harder diffuse with logic. We spend much of our time with these people. They’re real people who are thinner and more fit than we are. The comparison depresses us. “If she can look that good, why can’t I?”

It's our friends whose images are most likely to bring on negative feelings about ourselves.

It’s our friends whose images are most likely to bring on negative feelings about ourselves.

Eating while staring at upsetting images can affect how much we eat at that meal, and what and how much we eat in general. It seems logical that if we’re dissatisfied with our bodies we’d eat less. It doesn’t always work that way. For many people it’s the opposite. Being upset requires something to push down those feelings and food gets used for that purpose.

The problem is we often only see things in terms of black and white – all good and if not all good then all bad. There’s no good, better, best and there’s no bad, worse, worst!

If images make us feel inferior, it doesn’t inspire us to launch a self-improvement project. We decide we’re no good; we’re bad, so nothing matters. We might as well order the super-sized, saturated fat, sodium and sugar-filled, high calorie menu items, because it doesn’t matter, but it does matter.


There is a lot of good in everybody and every body, including looking good.

We can emphasize all that’s good. We can take good care of ourselves and our “good” can become “better” and “best.” We see that for which we are looking. We need to learn how to see the good in ourselves instead of comparing ourselves unfavorably with images in social media.

So put the darn phone down, or better yet, power it down to stop the tones and vibrations that alert you to new events. This goes for even when you’re dining alone. Mobile devices are not good company.

Focus on your meal. Eat foods that are good for you and taste good too. Savor the food, the subtle flavors and textures. Eat slowly and make each meal a pleasurable experience.


Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.