Is TV Making You More Hungry?

Clearly, watching television is not an undiscovered weight loss plan. Any sedentary lifestyle like sitting in front of the TV is just that - sitting.  By not being active you are not actively burning calories, so your body burns the bare minimum. This is one of the ways that watching television aids in weight gain. To compound that, some people habitually and mindlessly crunch on snacks while watching a show, coming as naturally as chomping on popcorn at the movies.

But another less obvious player is also helping you gain weight- the commercials. You may crave foods you wouldn't normally crave if you were spared the images of delicious, fatty foods repeatedly shown during a commercial break. Watching food-based advertisements could be making your diet much harder to maintain.The main reason anyone advertises is to increase sales. The advertising and marketing guru's hired for the job specialize in how to compel someone buy a company's product or service. They know how to make fast food look delicious. They study people's reactions to images of food and depict them in particular ways for one purpose - to make you go buy the product!  You see the specifically crafted commercials and your body has a reaction to them. Think it's impossible? Try this visualization: Picture biting into a big, juicy pickle. Really close your eyes and picture the pickle, how it tastes and how it crunches.  A large percentage of you will start to salivate.

Food advertising may not cause you to salivate on your couch, but it most definitely does something to your brain and body, even though you may not notice it. Each commercial you watch adds to your hunger and the intensity of your cravings. The types of food that are being advertised are typically from fast food restaurants, chains or junk foods.

The table below depicts the Top 10 Most-Remembered 2012 Super Bowl Ads, as recorded by the marketing and research company, Neilsen.

Recall Rank Brand Ad Description
1 Doritos Grandma slings baby across yard to snatch chips
2 M&M's M&M shows his milk chocolate
3 Doritos Dog buries cat and bribes owner with snack chips
4 Sketchers Gorun :  Little dog moonwalks across the finish line
5 Coca-Cola Polar bear has trouble catching bottle of soda
6 Bud Light Dog fetches drinks when his name is called
7 Pepsi Melanie Amaro dumps Sir Elton John into the king's dungeon
8 Budweiser People drink beer from end of Prohibition to present
9 GoDaddy Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels body paint a model
10 Budweiser Americans celebrate the end of Prohibition

This is a list of the items advertised; chips, candy, chips, sneakers, soda, beer, soda, beer, beer, hosting, beer. Certainly speaks to the American condition, right?

Many of you saw these commercials and might be thinking "But I haven't had a Dorito in years, so I'm immune to their tricks!" But unfortunately there is a chance the craving still stuck with you. Maybe you got a different cheese snack instead, or just ate stuff you had in the house.

Watching TV can aid in weight gain because you are not moving, you may be mindlessly snacking, and are subjected to subliminal (or blatantly obvious) messages about eating.

What can you do to stop it?

  • 1. Cut down on your TV consumption. Really. Shut. It. Off. According to Neilson, the average American spends 20% of their day watching television. Cut that 20% down. In other words, change the usual 3 hours of TV after work into 1 show per night.
  • 2. You think TV helps you relax? Maybe, but maybe it's just a distraction. Maybe you have temporarily escaped your life by focusing on something else instead of dealing with what makes you stressed in the first place. Try relaxing another way, by staring out the window or telling your pet cat about your day. Do something productive or do chores. Accomplishing a task or cleaning can help some people relax.
  • 3. Utilize the DVR (Digital Recording Device). Record programs so you can fast forward commercials. You still have to see the images, but you don't get as much exposure. Changing a specifically crafted 30 second hamburger ad into a quick one-shot flash of ketchup makes a difference.
  • 4. Watch movies without commercials. Those Sundays when you're just flicking around from commercial to commercial, turn on a movie for 2 straight hours of uninterrupted entertainment. Yes, there will be people in the movies eating, but it won't be snip-it after snip-it of specially designed food product commercials.
  • 5. During commercials, force yourself to do something active. The average commercial break is 2 minutes. Play a game; earn your regularly scheduled programming by jogging in place during the two minute commercial break. 2 minutes worth of sit-ups can be a lot of sit-ups! Have weights by the coffee table and do some reps. You will still see the advertisements, but you will be active.
  • 6. If you have a habit of snacking, snack on veggies or try our low calorie snack bars and shakes!
  • If you don't change anything about your sedentary V watching lifestyle then just keep this in mind: Count the number of commercials about food and what type of food and be aware of corporate influences. Would you be hungry right now if you didn't see that commercial for thick, juicy hamburger smothered in melted yellow cheese? If you are aware of it, you could overcome it.

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