If you are a fast eater who is looking to become more aware of your nutrition or if you are wanting to lose weight– you can reap the benefits of eating slowly!
It’s a route you take every day. You could drive from Point A to Point B with your eyes closed and now– you wonder if you did.
Have you ever finished eating with no recollection of what you just ate? The bag was full and now it’s gone, and the worst part is– you still want to eat.
Or, maybe you just eat so quickly that you’re the first one finished with your meal. You sit in standby mode as the rest of your family finishes and you find yourself eating more, just for the taste.
Either way, your tummy is full and you are anything but satisfied.
Surprisingly, satisfaction is more than the sum of how much we eat. There are physical AND mental cues that tell our bodies and brains we have eaten enough. But you won’t get those signals if you are doing this one thing.
This post is the fourth installment of a series on simple changes. Week one, I touched on the biggest problem with diets and how you can get diet help.
Two weeks ago, we discussed one habit-based skill that could make a marked difference in your health and weight loss while remaining incredibly practical at the same time- healthy menu planning.
Last week we discussed how eating only from a plate can be an effective way to streamline your nutrition plan.
Now, we’ll dive deep into the benefits of eating slowly and how it may be just the boost you need in your health, fitness, and weight loss goals.
THE BENEFITS OF EATING SLOWLY
My natural eating style can best be described with a photo:
Yes, that’s a vacuum. Without any intention, I will Hoover© my food.
I still catch myself eating as if I were competing for the World Cup of quick meals. The delicious food that I’d been looking forward to is gone and I can’t remember the flavors, textures, or the little chocolate bits that left me drooling.
That is the epitome of an unsatisfying meal. And it’s the kind of meal that will result in us roaming the kitchen like a trash picker even though we aren’t hungry.
The body is satisfied but the urge to eat is still strong.
1. YOU WON’T END UP OVERFULL
We’ve all heard that it takes 20 minutes for food eaten to register with your brain. It’s true- it takes about that long for your digestive system to break down the incoming meal into nutrients so that they can enter the bloodstream.
From here a signal is sent to your brain that sustenance has arrived. It’s that little “ah” that you feel when your hunger is being quenched.
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This is why it can be difficult to judge if we have had enough food if our meals are eaten at sprint pace. We zoom from start to finish before the “stop” cue is sent and boom! end up overfull.
One of the great benefits of eating slowly is that you give your brain a chance to catch up with your body so you won’t eat too much.
2. YOUR MEALS WILL TASTE BETTER
Taste fatigue also sets in as our appetites are quenched. “Taste fatigue” refers to the flavor that diminishes as we eat. The yumminess that was so wonderful when we were hungry and enjoying our first bites becomes rather ordinary as we continue to eat.
If we eat quickly we may bypass that clue altogether. And, honestly, this may be a reason why we eat fast- we are trying to fill up while the food is at peak taste.
Problem is, this may also leave us chasing the taste even after our fullness cues kick in. We eat bite after bite hoping it will be as tasty as the first.
One of the great benefits of eating slowly is that your taste will guide you to your perfect portion.
Proverbs 27:7 A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.
3. YOUR BODY AND BRAIN WILL BE SATISFIED
There is something to be said for the mental satisfaction of a meal too. By eating slowly, we not only allow our bodies to catch up with their digestive processes, but when we begin to participate more fully in all aspects of the meal- we can walk away feeling more satisfied with less food.
That’s a win-win for fat loss.
Can you imagine watching a movie or recorded sporting event on fast forward? You see the movement but you are not quite sure who swept who off their feet. Maybe you can catch the score but you really have no idea who hit the home run.
The program would be over and you’d have felt unsatisfied and disappointed.
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I have felt that way at the end of many meals. Such a bummer.
If you enjoy food and you like to eat, the habit of eating slowly is a great place for you to start. By getting more satisfaction out of meals, you can walk away content with less food.
One of the great benefits of eating slowly is that you will be able to walk away from your meal physically and mentally satisfied so you won’t keep eating.
HOW TO GET STARTED TODAY
If you feel like eating slowly is something you would like to try, here are a few tips to get you started. There is no need to use every tool, every day. Read through the list and start with the tips that feel like the best fit for you.
1. START EATING SLOWLY, SLOWLY
You don’t need to go from the hare to the tortoise overnight. Start small, choosing a goal that feels completely doable for you. Time yourself and see how long your meals are taking you. Then, add 2 minutes.
While it may not seem like much, going from 5 minutes to 7 IS progress. Once 7 feels easy, then 10 is just around the corner.
2. TIME YOUR TIMES WISELY
Eating slowly during your morning routine on a weekday may not be the best place to start. Choose a time where you won’t be in a rush– where you can really relish your meal.
It’s ok to begin with one meal a day or a few meals a week. That’s still more than zero! After you feel comfortable then you can add another meal or day… and then ripple the practice into other times.
3. DIMINISH DISTRACTIONS
The TV, your phone, a book, the newspaper. They all can lead to unconscious eating (although electronics more so). If eating and only eating sounds like a terrible idea to you, consider switching between activities. When you are eating, eat. When you are scrolling, scroll.
You may even start by blocking out a few minutes of your meal for no screen time. Then extend that time, as your ability to stay present grows.
If you are out to a meal with others, this tip works brilliantly too. Bustling conversation can distract; take a moment to tune in when you are taking a bite, even if it is just for a nanosecond. Seriously, we’ve all got a nanosecond to spare.
TIPS AND TRICKS
These practical tips will help you obtain the “benefits of eating slowly” more quickly. While tools don’t change our habits for good, they can assist us along the way.
- Set your fork down between bites. So often we are preparing the next bite as we chew on the current one. In this case, we are not able to fully enjoy the bite we are tasting because our attention is divided. By putting your utensil down you can create a natural rhythm to your eating.
- Eat with your non-dominant hand. The sheer awkwardness of eating with your non-dominant hand is enough to slow the process down a bit. Simple but effective.
- Try chopsticks. Like the tip above, chopsticks require special attention. They also limit your bite-size which is an eating slowly double whammy!
- Use an app for eating slowly (yes, there is an app for that!). Timers that prompt you to chew, take a sip, pause, and put your fork down can be used on occasion to help demonstrate what a slow eating pace feels like.
- Find a pacer. If someone in your family is a slow eater, try to mimic his/her timing. Not in a creepy, every move you make kinda way, but use their speed as a way to pace yourself.
As you can see, there is more to eating slowly than simply moving at a slower pace. The mindfulness required can increase your presence and enjoyment and help you be content with less food.
You don’t need to master this habit now… simply start practicing and improving. What do you have to lose?
SEE ALL THE EMAILS IN THIS SERIES:
- The Biggest Problem With Diets and How to Solve It
- How to Create a Healthy Menu Plan from Scratch
- Are You Missing this Surprisingly Simple Diet Tip?
- How to Start Eating Slowly in 3 Easy Steps
- How to Eat Better Without Making Yourself Crazy
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.