We’re living in a constant rush and our health is suffering. We’ve got Google to answer all our questions in under half a second. We’re commuting to work at the crack of dawn to beat traffic. We’re pushed to meet crazy deadlines. And when we finally stop to eat, we shove food down our mouths like it’s an inconvenience! Or worse, grab drive through MacDonald’s. Because apparently getting out of your car to eat takes too long these days. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about convenience. But when it comes to weight loss and eating healthy, slowing down’s the way to go. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of eating slowly.
You’ll Eat Less and Lose Weight
In a University of Rhode Island study, researchers had normal-weight women eat two large lunch meals on different days. The women were instructed to eat until they were comfortably full for both meals. They were also told to eat as quickly as possible on one visit, and slowly on the other (including putting down utensil between bites). The results were significant:
- The women that ate quickly consumed 646 calories.
- The women that ate slowly consumed 579 calories.
The slow group consumed 67 fewer calories. Now, if we assume this happened over three meals a day, that’s an extra 201 calories you’d consume just by eating quickly! Or just under 2 lb of weight gained per month. It adds up quickly!
Tune Into Your Hunger Signals
This is one of the most important reasons to eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes from the time we start eating for our brain to tell us we're full. So, if you scoff your food down quickly, you don’t give yourself time to get the signal. As we saw above, you can eat a lot of extra calories before your brain tells you to stop eating. And when we look at the research on fast eaters, we see that they are generally heavier than slow eaters.
Being in tune with our hunger signals is something so basic that we often overlook it. We start out right. When we’re babies, we eat when hungry and spit out food when full. As we grow up, some of us seem to forget how to eat intuitively. We get caught up in eating around work schedules or having lunch because it’s 12 pm.
Digestion begins in the mouth. Chewing your food properly is a very important step in the process. You not only consume more food when eating quickly, but the food is landing in your stomach as big chunks instead of being well chewed. When food passes through your GI tract without being broken down properly, nutrients are not absorbed as well. Eating fast also leads to indigestion and other stomach issues that are no fun.
Enjoy Your Meals!
Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Think about your mum’s home cooked meals, Christmas feasts, and birthdays. All these occasions revolve around enjoying a meal together. This is one of the most common sense reasons for eating slowly. Meal times should be an opportunity to savour good food and relax. Eating shouldn’t be a rushed practice you have to do before moving on to the next task. Many European countries (with significantly lower obesity rates) eat slowly and set aside lots of time for meals.
How to Eat Slowly to Lose Weight
I write to share my own experiences and knowledge with you. But my ultimate goal is to give you information that’ll help you eat, move, and live optimally. Get these right, and you’ll transform your body and change your life. So, I like to end each post with some actionable steps you can take immediately.
To get the most out of this post, commit to trying one or more of the actions below before the opportunity passes. If you really can’t drop everything right now, write a reminder on a post-it note and stick it to your forehead for later. Decision creates action. Action creates results.
- Sit down and don't eat while distracted: yes, this means no watching Game of Thrones while eating! When you're rushing around, you're likely to eat more. So, put aside time to chill out. Don't multitask by checking Facebook, working on the computer, reading the paper, and so on.
- Chew your food more: try setting a minimum number of chews or chew for 30 or so seconds before swallowing. Don’t get too caught up in the numbers. Just increase time or chews from your baseline.
- Put down your utensils between each bite: this is a great trick for awareness. It slows you down and allows you to enjoy your food.
- Eat high fibre foods: fresh vegetables and fruit take more time to chew.
- Set aside time to eat: allow at least 20-30 minutes to eat a meal. Set a timer and stick to it if you need to. For bonus points, take longer for dinner.
- Don't let yourself get too hungry: if you wait too long between meals, you’ll get overly hungry and are more likely to overeat. Eat small meals regularly.
- Use smaller plates: this will help with portion sizes and slow you down if you need to get additional servings.
- Eat with others: we tend to slow down when we eat with other people and chat. So be social and eat with family or friends whenever possible.
Add a comment below and let me know which of these have worked for you in the past, or which you’re going to try.
Finally, if you want help in putting all of this into a completely customised online weight loss coaching program, you can book a free consultation with me here. More details on the program can be found here.
P.S. If you liked this blog post, I’d owe you one if you could get it out there by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on social media. You might also be interested in my free e-book: The Battle Tested Body Transformation Guide.