Eating slowly isn’t just about avoiding stomach pain.
It’s also about peace of mind and minding your waistline.
When you rush through anything, meals included, your heart rate rises and you feel somewhat stressed. Your lunch break (note the word “break”) is definitely not when you want either of those things happening.
Plan to spend at least 20 minutes eating. That’s about how long it takes your brain to register that you’re full. Plus, you’ll feel much calmer when you finish than if you scarf everything down in 10 (or even 15) minutes.
While you eat, make nourishing yourself the focus. You can read, though it’s best if you’re not staring at a screen. Alternatively, you can dine with someone and talk.
“I always recommend that people slow down when eating as a way to become more mindful about the portions they eat and how much they can actually eat before becoming full,” says Mark Powell, a health and wellbeing consultant with Unum. “It’s an easy way to learn how to interpret your body’s hunger and satiety signals and avoid excess consumption.”
In other words, eating slowly is a great way to feel full. Pretty simple.
Getting yourself to eat slowly, though, isn’t necessarily simple.
Here are a few tips:
- Chew slowly
- Put your fork or spoon down between bites
- Take small sips of water in between bites
- Eat with smaller utensils
- Sit down
Also, eating raw vegetables takes a lot longer than eating, say, rice. You have to chew kale and green peppers a lot in order to swallow them.
As you’d guess, eating slowly helps you eat less – or more to the point: It helps you eat closer to the right amount to meet your hunger. In turn, slow eating helps with weight control.
There’s a lot of science to how the brain and digestive system interact, including a cool-sounding hormone called “leptin” and a complex-sounding hormone called “cholecystokinin.” But the takeaway you need is that speed isn’t super when it comes to dining.
Journalist Mitra Malek writes about wellness, fitness and innovation. She’s taught yoga regularly since 2006 and was a senior editor for Yoga Journal magazine. Learn more at mitramalek.com.