TV Dinner: Why Your Meals Should Be Screen-free

It is the customary evening routine for many students – get home and flop down in front of the TV, phone in one hand, microwaved dinner in the other, eyes glued to the screen. After all, Shipwrecked is on, and after a long, hard day of lectures, this is just what you need.

According to the UK’s four chief medical officers, mobiles phones should be banned from the dinner table as well as bedtime, as part of a healthy approach to devices. As we all know, having dinner and talking as a family is very important for personal and social well-being and development.

If you are heavily involved in screen time whilst eating, you will be distracted and less socially engaged. You are also less likely to remember even eating, leading to snacking later on. One learns to eat in accordance with these external distracting cues. We tend to eat on auto-pilot, eating a lot more slowly, lazily and in an uninterested manner than if we focused on our food.

Follow these three easy steps to kick your screen-eating habit:

  1. Make your food fun. whether this means incorporating new foods or different tastes, textures or colours into your meal, or simply arranging your potatoes in a smiley face, making the cooking into a fun activity and not just another auto-pilot motion with one eye glued to your phone screen. (Obviously if you are following an online recipe then you may well need this eye).
  2. Focus on your food. Maximum concentration at mealtimes will not only mean you enjoy your food more, but also that you and your body actually realise that you are eating, and so you will feel fuller for longer. Savour every bite of that pasta you slaved over!
  3. Have a house meal time. Even if it is just once a week, eating dinner in a group is not only more social and enjoyable, it will ensure you all engage with each other face to face rather than via Facebook messenger. The benefits are proven to be huge, so next time you are reaching for that TV remote, stop yourself, and go and chat with your flatmates in the kitchen instead. You’ll thank me later!

Caitlin Tilley