Our environment. Scientists have conducted hundreds of fascinating studies on the different ways that our environment can impact our eating behavior. By environment, we mean everything from our homework and the local environment to the people we spend time with in person, see on TV, and interact with them on social media.

Some studies look at how supermarkets use psychology to try not to make particular shopping choices. Others look at how changing the home environment can make it easier or harder for people to establish healthy eating habits. Social psychologists have looked at how eating with other people influences things like our food choices and how much we eat.

To learn more about some of these experiments, check out the book Secrets From The Eating Lab by Tracy Mann. One finding that stands out when it comes to how much our environment affects our eating behavior is

Environment Effect 1 : What happens to us when we eat, when we’re distracted?

Have you ever had lunch while working at your desk or eaten dinner in front of the TV? Had a packet of crisps while driving or a packet of biscuits while you were scrolling through social media only to reach the bottom of the packet without really even noticing the taste. No judgment here. These are things we all do well, most people, anyway. And it’s no surprise given how busy our lives have become.

But studies show that we are much more likely to eat more when we are distracted. And importantly, we are much less likely to feel satisfied after eating. And if we don’t feel satisfied, we’re more likely to keep searching for something else to eat, than something else. And this can lead to a pattern of continual grazing.

Environment Effect 2 : How do you normally eat?

Do you tend to eat whilst busy or distracted? What would it be like to eat differently, pay attention and notice the food you’re eating, and savor and enjoy it? There are lots of small ways you can change this pattern, such as by sitting down at the table to eat a meal, ensuring there are no distractions like the TV or your phone, and paying attention to what you’re eating with all five of your senses, expressing gratitude for where the food has come from and the process it has been through to get onto your table.