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Is it okay for me to "eat on the run?"

"Eating on the run" is a phrase familiar to most everyone—and it is something that many of us might also do! Our average total eating time per day in the U.S. —including all meals and snacks—is just 74 minutes. If this total amount of time is divided equally between 3 meals and 3 snacks, it means only 12 minutes per eating session, which is hardly enough time to enjoy the pleasures of eating.

There are many reasons why we might spend very little time eating, and eating on the run is definitely on that list. Eating on the run might mean consuming a whole meal while driving in the car. It might mean grabbing a snack at work while trying to avoid interrupting your workflow. It might mean choosing a food because it can be eaten with one hand or because it is easy to carry around in a plastic bag.

Research studies show that eating on the run has many unwanted consequences for our health for a variety of unexpected reasons. We've created this series of articles about eating on the run to provide you with practical and comprehensive information about this topic, one that tell us a lot about the relationship between our eating habits and the health benefits of food. For more on "eating on the run:"

  1. Just how common is "eating on the run?"
  2. Problem 1 with "eating on the run"—getting distracted from the process of eating
  3. Problem 2 with "eating on the run"—eating too quickly for our body systems
  4. References for "Is it okay to "eat on the run?"

For more on Great Healthy Eating Habits:

  1. Does Healthy Eating require cooking on a regular basis?
  2. Are grocery lists and organized food plans required for Health Eating?
  3. Does Healthy Eating require three meals each day?
  4. Are snacks a good thing or a bad thing for Healthy Eating?
  5. Does it matter if dinner is the largest meal of the day?
  6. How consistent does my diet have to be in order for me to stay healthy?
  7. Is it possible to create a well-balanced diet without paying attention to portion sizes?
  8. Is Healthy Eating possible on a tight budget?


  • References for 4 "eating on the run" articles:
  • Andrade AM, Greene GW, and Melanson KJ. Eating Slowly Led to Decreases in Energy Intake within Meals in Healthy Women. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 108, Issue 7, July 2008, Pages 1186—1191.
  • Higgs S. Manipulations of attention during eating and their effects on later snack intake.
  • Appetite. 2015 Sep;92:287-94.
  • Karl JP, Young AJ, and Montain SJ. Eating rate during a fixed-portion meal does not affect postprandial appetite and gut peptides or energy intake during a subsequent meal. Physiol Behav. 2011 Mar 28;102(5):524-31. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.01.007. Epub 2011 Jan 14.
  • Lee JS, Mishra G, Hayashi K, et al. Combined eating behaviors and overweight: Eating quickly, late evening meals, and skipping breakfast. Eat Behav. 2016 Jan 21;21:84-88.
  • Leong SL, Madden C, Gray A, et al. Faster self-reported speed of eating is related to higher body mass index in a nationwide survey of middle-aged women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1192-7.
  • Long S, Meyer C, Leung N, et al. Effects of distraction and focused attention on actual and perceived food intake in females with non-clinical eating psychopathology. Appetite, Volume 56, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 350—356.
  • Mantzios M and Wilson JC. Mindfulness, Eating Behaviours, and Obesity: A Review and Reflection on Current Findings. Curr Obes Rep. 2015 Mar;4(1):141-6.
  • Mason AE, Epel ES, Kristeller J, et al. Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindful eating, sweets consumption, and fasting glucose levels in obese adults: data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. J Behav Med. 2015 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Ogden J, Coop N, Cousins C, et al. Distraction, the desire to eat and food intake. Towards an expanded model of mindless eating. Appetite. 2013 Mar;62:119-26.
  • Ogden J, Oikonomou E, and Alemany G. Distraction, restrained eating and disinhibition: An experimental study of food intake and the impact of 'eating on the go'. J Health Psychol. 2015 Aug 20. pii: 1359105315595119. [Epub ahead of print]
  • O'Reilly GA, Cook L, Spruijt-Metz D, et al. Mindfulness-based interventions for obesity-related eating behaviours: a literature review.
  • Obes Rev. 2014 Jun;15(6):453-61.
  • Scisco JL, Muth ER, Dong U, et al. Slowing Bite-Rate Reduces Energy Intake: An Application of the Bite Counter Device. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 111, Issue 8, August 2011, Pages 1231—1235.
  • Shah M, Copeland J, Dart L, et al. Slower eating speed lowers energy intake in normal-weight but not overweight/obese subjects. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Mar;114(3):393-402.
  • Shah M, Crisp K, Adams-Huet B, et al. The effect of eating speed at breakfast on appetite hormone responses and daily food consumption. J Investig Med. 2015 Jan;63(1):22-8.
  • Stites SD, Singletary SB, Menasha A, et al. Pre-ordering lunch at work. Results of the what to eat for lunch study. Appetite. 2015 Jan;84:88-97.
  • Viskaal-van Dongen M, Kok FJ, and de Graaf C. Eating rate of commonly consumed foods promotes food and energy intake. Appetite, Volume 56, Issue 1, February 2011, Pages 25—31.
  • Wilson DR and Dillard D. Mindful Eating: Body, Mind, and Oxytocin. Beginnings. 2015 Feb;35(1):6-9, 24.
  • Zhu B, Haruyama Y, Muto T, et al. Association between eating speed and metabolic syndrome in a three-year population-based cohort study. J Epidemiol. 2015;25(4):332-6. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20140131. Epub 2015 Mar 14.

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