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Your Healthy Family: Don’t let teen binge-watching turn into binge eating

Posted at 12:12 PM, May 01, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-09 11:27:49-04

Many of us may have spent the weekend binge-watching our favorite television shows

But research has shown that binge-watching can often lead to binge-eating.

According to Susan Albers, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, this trend is especially dangerous for teenagers.

“Teens can be up until two in the morning binge-watching their favorite show and then the next day, they aren’t as focused and they lose concentration,” she said. “Even if they miss an hour or two of sleep, this affects the appetite hormones and makes them more likely to eat more the next day.”

Dr. Albers said when we’re sitting in front of the TV for an extended period of time, that’s also when we tend to go for more snacks – which, she said, often serve the same escape as the TV viewing. Just like adults, teens will use television as a distraction from the everyday world and sometimes even an escape from their emotions, which are the same triggers for emotional or comfort eating.

The average teen spends about six hours a day in front of a screen. Dr. Albers said when teens are in front of the TV for at least three hours, they are at risk of eating too many snacks – anywhere from 200-500 extra calories a day.

To combat the binge-watching and binge-eating cycle, Dr. Albers recommends that parents talk to their teens and set limits on how much TV time is appropriate.

She said it’s okay to snack every now and then, but make sure that those snacks are well thought-out in advance.

“If you do have a snack, as you’re binge-watching TV, make sure to portion it,” said Dr. Albers. “Don’t eat out of a bag or box, but rather, portion out your snack before you sit in front of the TV.”

Dr. Albers also said keeping hands busy with crafting or even moving on the treadmill can help curb binge-eating.

She adds that it’s better to watch TV earlier in the day, because we tend to engage in binge-eating more frequently in the evening.