UNITED STATES—There is a reason so many people in America are obese. Any guesses as to what it might be? If you’re thinking the foods we consume that is a partial argument, but there is indeed more to the story.

It’s TELEVISION! Americans spend way too much time sitting in the chair or laying on the couch watching the tube. Why is that? Well, it’s something that relaxes most of us during our down time, but it is also a factor leading to high obesity rates, and unhealthy lifestyles.

So how does one gauge if he or she is watching too much TV. Well for starters, if you’re watching the small screen for more than 8 hours a day 7 days a week that is a major problem. I find it hard for anyone to do this. I think that is a suitable excuse for someone to do this one-time during the week, especially if you’re working physical labor 5-6 days a week. However, if you’re someone who does work and you’re spending that much time daily watching TV it’s a major problem.

The problem with TV is that we have so many more options today than what we had in the past. Those who are able to afford Cable are well aware of the dilemma. I mean you have hundreds of channels to choose from. Granted, most of those channels might be repeats, but it’s better than the selection for those who can only choose from network television. I would argue the summer months should definitely inspire people to be outdoors much more than during the winter months. Even with that argument at the forefront, with summer vacation upon us for most people, what other options do we have at our finger tips, plenty.

TV watching contributes to overeating for most people. You may have just eaten lunch, and one of your favorite shows is about to come on. You head to the cabinet and grab a bag of potato chips, before you know it the entire bag is gone and you’re craving something more. This is the problem with TV: we snack when we watch. If you’re eating an entire bag of chips within a hour, you have a major problem. Perhaps, you should portion what you eat, or perhaps go for a healthier option to begin with. When we take a snack to sit on the couch, that might be the beginning of what is sure to be a long day or night of binge TV watching as some would call it.

TV gets boring for me real quick. At most, I might get 2-3 hours of TV a day, mainly Monday-Wednesday, as the weekend nears, the amount of TV watching decreases just because there isn’t much to watch and my busy schedule. I will admit on Saturday I might binge watch slightly, more so on the movie trope than television, but I don’t snack as much as people may suspect. I try to eat full meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it doesn’t hurt that Saturday tends to be the one day that most of my errands are completed. So that means if I’m lucky I might get the opportunity to watch 4-6 hours of TV if I want, but boredom sinks in quickly.

The notion of binge watching is not easy to do. It seriously has to be a show that I’m obsessed with or, something that is so exciting I am unable to turn myself away from the small screen. That has only happened to me once, and it was about a year or so ago when I was watching a “Breaking Bad” marathon on AMC, I mean the series was so good; I literally stayed up late at night to see what would transpire next.

You know you’re addicted to TV if you’re already purchasing snacks to watch your favorite programs. You know you’re addicted to TV if you’re planning the day ahead to sit on the couch and do nothing all day. Ok, I’ll give those who work full-time a freebie day of television, but if you’re doing it more than once a day, major problem is on the horizon in my opinion.

For every1-2 hours you are watching TV, try to aim for 45 minutes to an hour doing some sort of physical activity. I hate to say this, but even if you have to bring your exercise bike, elliptical or treadmill in the room where you watch TV go for it. Most Americans might be encouraged to work out more if they can seize the opportunity to watch their favorite shows while doing so. Indulgence is ok when watching TV, but if you see yourself doing it slightly more than you should, then you should aim to curb things a bit.

Eating an entire pack of cookies in one sitting is bad. The amount of calories, fat and sugar that might be consumed is quite troubling. So what can we as Americans to do curb such temptations? Portion control! Package things in smalls zip lock bags and drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water. I lot of the time we confuse hunger with thirst. They are not the same thing. You might think you’re hungry, but in all due respect your body is quenching thirst.

I’m not here to say TV is a bad thing. Let’s face it, we all watch television, but the key is to ensure that we’re not allowing TV to dictate or take over our lives.