Sam Radford

February 4, 2022

Focus on your food!

I’ve been reading ‘The Expectation Effect’ by David Robson this week. It’s a fascinating read! 

There’s countless themes I’ve been tempted to write about, but one stood out and it was in a chapter about food. 

In short, our expectations around food and how we approach it can make a tangible difference to digestion, weight loss or gain, and how hungry we feel. 

Not only that, being distracted when we eat can have a significant impact too. Here’s what Robson writes:

The unhealthy habit of working, watching TV or surfing the internet while eating can act as a distraction that impairs memory formation of the food that we have consumed, reducing our expectation of feeling sated…As a consequence, we not only eat more during the meal itself, but we will also eat more snacks over the next few hours.

If we aren’t attentive when we are eating, we are less aware of what we’re eating and how much we’re eating. And, no matter the amount we ate, we’ll find ourselves liable to soon wanting to snack. 

Why? When we are focussed on what we’re eating, our brain registers our intake; we know how much we’ve eaten. Our brain and body can subconsciously tell us, ‘You don’t need to snack, you had ... an hour ago.’ (Doing this consciously helps too.) 

I know I’m not alone in having eaten many a lunch while continuing to work away on my laptop, barely registering what it is I’m shoving into my mouth. And then my body doesn’t grasp what it’s been fed and quickly ends up convinced it’s hungry again. Cue snacking! 

I’ve got better at this since I switched to working from home. I take a proper break, do something completely different from work. Even preparing my lunch right before eating makes a difference. Knowing what we eat helps our brain ensure our bodies process our food appropriately. 

So many more nuggets in the chapter on food alone. If this has piqued your interest though, go grab a copy. It’s worth a read.

—Sam

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@samradford | samradford.com