Every once in a while, I have weird questions pop into my head. For example, the other day I wondered “Which is worse: binge-watching TV or binge-eating?” Both have quite a reputation for being harmful to your health, but which one is worse? Well, I thought that this might be the sort of thing that you would wonder about, too.
I decided that we should find out the answer. Here’s what I discovered.
Several years ago, binge-watching TV became the new worst thing for you. Just like eggs and caffeine, binge-watching TV shows was the new most horrible thing you could do to yourself. Frankly, I’m not sure that’s true.
However, as Netflix released more and more shows that I wanted to watch, more people were coming forward and saying that binge-watching was bad for you. The claims were enough to give me pause and make me think. Here’s what I discovered about how binge-watching TV negatively impacts your health.
The Negative Impact
Extended periods of sedentary time negatively impact your health. Whether you’re sitting at a desk working or binge-watching a show or even driving on vacation; studies have shown that sitting for four or more hours at a time will lead to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Keep in mind, you face this increased risk even if you regularly exercise. The threat is obviously an ever greater danger for those who may accidentally replace their workout with just one more episode of their favorite show.
One of the biggest health issues with binge-watching is that it’s addictive. Shows are frequently structured with some sort of big or exciting event at the end of an episode. This structure is part of what previously kept you coming back week after week (sometimes after long breaks) to get more of the story.
Now, with binge-watching, we have that ability to have instant gratification. We don’t have to wait until next week or even tomorrow to find out what happens. We can watch it now, and we often do.
The Impact on Sleep
This notion of watching just one more episode ends up impacting our sleep in a variety of ways. When people are binge-watching a show, it normally ends up taking away from their overall sleep time. Since work is a constant, people carve time out for binge-watching by deciding to sleep less.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. By spending your time before bed watching TV or a personal electronic device, you end up messing up your circadian rhythm. This is your body’s internal device that let’s you know when it’s time to go to sleep. Because you’ve just subjected it to an extended period of light, it’s not really sure when you should go to sleep.
This means that even if you can get your brain to calm down after an extended period of stimulation and light exposure, it will still take longer for you to fall asleep than it would if you hadn’t watched TV right before bed. For more about how binge-watching impacts your sleep, check out this article from BusinessInsider.com.
There are some claims that binge-watching can impact you emotionally. Anyone who has felt deep sadness from watching a season or series finale can attest that we become emotionally invested in our shows. By rushing yourself through the show, you do also rush yourself to the sadness that you may feel with the end of the show. For more about how binge-watching impacts you emotionally, check out this article from NBC.com.
Additionally, some people claim that binge-watching could make you anti-social. Personally, I don’t subscribe to this belief. However, I do believe that when people choose to watch TV instead of interact with other people, it impacts how they relate to others and decreases their overall satisfaction and happiness in life.
It’s proven that binge-eating negatively impacts your health. I can remember learning about binge-eating and its impact when I was in elementary school, which was quite some time ago. Here are some of the ways that binge-eating negatively impacts your health.
The Negative Impact
Obesity and All of the Diseases that Come with It
According to WebMD.com, obesity is one of the main side effects of binge-eating. Obesity is a gateway to several significant health issues such as:
- heart disease,
- sleep apnea,
- high blood pressure,
- type 2 diabetes,
- coronary artery disease,
- gallbladder disease, and
Believe it or not, many binge-eaters suffer from undernourishment. This is because they often binge on foods that don’t have an adequate nutritional value. So, although their overall calorie consumption may be high, they’re still not getting the vitamins and minerals that their body needs. This vitamin and mineral deficiency may trigger further signals that the body needs food, which could begin a new round of binge-eating.
Avoidance of Emotional Issues
For some people, binge-eating is a way to avoid dealing with negative feelings and emotional issues. In this case, a binge-eater would eat in order to move past whatever thoughts or emotions they’re avoiding. This is a short-term coping mechanism.
The problem is that, when we don’t face and deal with our issues, they still exist. Furthermore, when we eat in order to avoid a problem, we teach our brains that that’s what we do to deal with problems. This means that, at some point in the future, you’ll be faced with a similar situation and your instinct will be to binge-eat.
Which Is Worse: Binge-Watching TV or Binge Eating?
For me, it’s a clear winner about which is worse. I would say binge-eating is worse for your health. With tons of scientific backing and all of the diseases and health problems that obesity can cause, binge-eating appears to be much worse than binge-watching TV.
That’s not to say that binge-watching TV is safe. Be aware that you should still get up and move around every couple of hours to get your blood pumping and stretch your muscles. Of course, the same advice applies to anyone who works a desk job or takes long trips.
In your opinion, which is worse: binge-watching TV or binge-eating? Let us know in the comments below.
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