Binge-Watching Does Not Have To Mean Binge-Eating

Daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere are at their shortest of the year. The temperature is beginning to drop, and Netflix recently added its new December lineup of TV shows and movies. The conditions are just right for the perfect binge watch.

It's great to spend a day catching up on your favorite shows while wrapped up in a toasty blanket and surrounded by snacks—emphasis on surrounded by snacks. But too often, I have found that a binge-watching episode accompanies a binge-eating episode. Fortunately, I have implemented these snacking strategies into my viewing experience.
apple slices and peanut butter

Mix and Match Macros

Lately, I am fueling my Netflix marathons with a combination of macronutrients, such as protein and whole grains. Protein helps maintain a healthy immune system and is used to repair tissue injury. Dietary protein has also been shown to increase satiety, or the feeling of being full. 

Whole grains are a great source of prebiotics, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. Whole grains also promote satiety through their fiber content. Some of my favorite combination of snacks include:

  • Apple slices + peanut butter
  • ​Carrots + hummus
  • Low-fat cheese + whole wheat crackers
  • Mini bagels + low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter
  • Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with grated low-fat cheese

Practice Portioning 

So many times I’ve sat down to watch something with a brand new, family-sized bag of chips, only to find it empty before the episode is over. I used to write it off as being a “growing boy.” But at age 23, I have outgrown that excuse.

Research shows that as the amount of food available increases, so does the intake. In other words, the more food you have, the more you will eat. To avoid this, I portion my snack from the bag to a plate or a bowl. I also try to use a smaller dish, as people tend to fill their plate but consume fewer calories with smaller plates. Consuming smaller, “snack-sized” or pre-portioned food may also contribute to lower energy intake. Using homemade or store-bought, pre-portioned snacks is a great way to stay on top of your snacking during any impromptu Netflix binges. portion control snacking

Savor the Flavor!

You take the first bite, and your mouth explodes with flavor. The second handful is almost as good as the first. The third mouthful is still satisfying, but the novelty of your treat is beginning to wear off.

By the sixth handful, you don’t even taste your snack anymore. Sound familiar? This is a typical progression of how my snacking goes: eating on autopilot. Not being engaged while eating can cause a delay in hunger and satiety cues. This could lead to overeating.

One way I counter this is with mindful eating. Mindful eating involves being aware of eating and the sensations you experience while eating.

Snacking while watching Netflix goes against some principles of mindful eating. But I have found that chewing slowly and making an effort to taste what I am eating helps keep me aware of my snacking.  Paying attention while eating is important, but what you are watching may play a role in snacking. One study showed that viewers watching engaging television snacked less during viewing than those shows perceived as boring. Moral of the story: Being attentive to your food and your television may curb your snacking. The trick is to slow down and savor your food.

I used to regret binge-watching because of the eating that would come with it. Following these tips created a more rewarding Netflix binging experience for me, and you can do the same. Happy watching!