Picture it. You’re in the theater watching really good movie. An Oscar contender, to be sure. Your bucket of popcorn is in your lap, and you barely pay attention to it as you bring the pieces to your mouth. Why? Because the movie is so good, that’s why! Before you know it, you look down and find an empty bucket, and find yourself wondering: where did all my popcorn go?

This phenomenon used to be a once in a while kind of thing. But it seems that lately – especially among the teenage population with a strong addiction to smartphones – this has become a more commonplace phenomenon.

Actually, no. Let’s not call it a phenomenon. Let’s call it what it really is: A crisis. According to Dr. Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, convenience, and technology are creating a generation of mindless teen binge eaters. And with America’s waistline growing, and their lifespans decreasing, this trend has got to stop.

“Being constantly consumed by our technology it’s easy to slip into mindless eating habits. When we are distracted by our phones, TV’s, or computers we miss the physiological cues of feeling full,” says Dr. Albers.  So, how do we help our teens become more mindful eaters?

In her new book, “Eating Mindfully for Teens,” Dr. Albers has some tips to help this zombie-like state of consumption:

  • Set limits (number of episodes, the time you will spend in a day) and stick with them.  Shows can trigger eating because they have hidden food product placements in them. You see people eating in a lot of shows, which research shows, triggers you to eat.  Limiting the amount of exposure can help you to avoid getting the munching while watching. If there are commercials, fast-forward past them so you don’t see the pizza and chip ads!
  • Don’t let Binge Marathon Munching impact your sleep. Go to bed at a reasonable time.  Even missing an hour of sleep impacts your appetite hormones and makes you hunger in the morning.  We make the worst food decisions when tired.
  • Watch with a buddy, they will help to keep you honest about your watching time.  Also, we tend to eat less when we have an audience.
  • Don’t eat and watch TV at the same time.  Period.  Make it a goal to turn off the TV if you have a snack or move to a table.
  • If you do eat while watching, portion it out—don’t eat right out of the bag or box.
  • Move while you watch.  Hitting the treadmill while binge-watching can prevent mindless marathon munching.

For more information, visit Susan on her website.

About Dr. Susan Albers:

Susan Albers, Psy.D is a New York Times best-selling author and a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic.  Dr. Albers graduated from the University of Denver and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University in California. Dr. Albers is the author of seven mindful eating books including EatQ, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, 50 MORE Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful and Mindful Eating 101.  She has been a guest on the Dr. Oz TV Show, TODAY show, and NPR.  Her books, programs, and tips have been featured in O, the Oprah Magazine, Family Circle, Shape, Prevention Magazine, Self, Health, Shape, People, New York Times, Fitness Magazine, Vanity Fair, Natural Health, the Wall Street Journal.