What if you could improve your health and well-being and even get rid of unwanted pounds without drastically making changes to your diet? Sound too good to be true? It’s actually not, and you can start with the simple act of slowing down.
Slowing down while you eat and being more present with your food creates many health benefits including:
- Better digestion
- Better food choices
- Increased satisfaction with meals
- Smaller portion sizes
- Greater joy surrounding food.
If your goal is to release weight, studies have shown that simply slowing down while you eat reduces energy intake and increases satisfaction at meal completion, especially if you tend to overeat1,2.
When you slow down, you give your body the time to digest your food properly, which means less gas and bloating and none of that -uncomfortably full, need to unbutton your pants- feeling!
It’s a win/win!
If you are rushing through your meals, you are most likely not relaxed or enjoying your food, which can leave you feeling dissatisfied and wanting for more. This can lead to overeating. A study even found more than a two-fold increased risk of type 2 diabetes for subjects eating faster vs. subjects eating slower3.
You may have heard that it takes 20 minutes for the brain to register that your stomach is full. When was the last time you can remember taking a full 20 minutes to finish eating?
This may seem challenging at first, but here are a few great techniques to help you master the art of slowing down, savoring, and truly enjoying your experience no matter how simple or extravagant it may be:
Multi-tasking is not for meal times. While eating, you should not be working, driving, watching TV, texting, talking on the phone, running errands, or doing anything that distracts you from being present with your food and enjoying the experience.
Put your utensil down between bites. Practice finishing each bite before preparing for the next one. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy the scenery or conversation at the table for a moment.
Chew your food thoroughly. While putting your fork down, make sure to chew each bite completely, paying attention to taste and textures. To start, you may try chewing each bite for a certain number of chews until you get the hang of it.
Take time to admire your food. Take it all in, the colors, textures, smells, shape, etc. and take a moment to see how your food makes you feel. The more satisfaction we get from your food, the less likely you are to quickly and mindlessly overeat.
Eat your meal with chopsticks. Unless this comes naturally to you, this will be a surefire way to slow you down! It can also make mealtime a bit entertaining.
Start with smaller portions. Serve your entrée on a salad plate, visually this tricks the eye into seeing a larger portion compared to the plate size. This can be especially helpful with dessert. After slowing finishing the smaller portion, check in with your hunger level. If you are truly still hungry, head back for seconds. If you are satisfied, pack the rest up lunch leftovers! This alone can result in less intake with each meal and a more comfortable waistline at the end of the week.
Prioritize time in your day to eat. Just like you schedule so many other things in your day that require your attention, schedule time to eat. This might sound silly, but eating at your desk while working or in your car between events doesn’t work. It is taking a toll on your health. Make your health a priority by having meal times be a separate event from your other tasks for the day.
Practice, practice, practice. It can be challenging to break habits, but practice makes perfect(ish) It can take up to three months to change or break a habit, so don’t give up if the first week doesn’t go as well as you hoped. Think marathon, not a sprint!
- 1. Andrade, Ana, Geoffrey Greene, and Kathleen Melanson. “Eating Slowly led to Decrease in Intake within Meals in Healthy Women.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 108.7 (2008): 1186-1191. Science Direct. Web. 4 May 2017
- 2. Scisco, Jenna et al. “Slowing Bite-Rate Reduces Energy Intake: An Application of the Bite Counter Device.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 111.8 (2011): 1231-1235. Science Direct. Web. 4 May 2017
- 3. Radzeviciene, Lina, and Rytas Ostrauskas. “Fast eating and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A case-control study.” Clinical Nutrition 32.2 (2013): 232-235. Science Direct. Web. 8 May 2017