What I Learned By Eating Slower

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As you can image I live a very busy life. Running my own business, while I love it, is also at times very stressful. My days are filled rushing from one client to another, doing Skype coaching sessions, writing blog post, taking conference calls and managing my own life. I rush through my day with very little time for anything and when I have time to get a bite to eat, I gobble it down.

So, when one of my coaches (yes I have them too) challenged me to eat slower, with the promise that this simple, yet powerful act would transform my stressful life immediately, I thought, ‘that’s it’? Just eat slower? How hard can that be? You just take smaller bites, you chew each bite slower and longer and you enjoy your meal longer. It takes a few minutes extra each meal.  No big deal, right?  I have to tell you, this was one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do.

First, I never realized that I eat fast! Really fast. I rarely take the time to savor my food, or sometimes even to chew it properly. I mainly eat while I am moving, I eat while I am working at my computer, I eat while I watch TV. I eat while I am getting ready for my day. A lot of times I eat while standing up and I always eat while I am distracted. Wow! Who knew?

Does this sound like you?

Learning to eat more slowly is one of the simplest yet most powerful things I have ever done to improve my overall health.

Here’s are 5 reasons you should consider the act of eating slower too:

  1. Lose weight without trying:  Just by eating slower, you’ll consume fewer calories. It gives your body time to recognize that you’re full. The reason is that it takes about 20 minutes for our brains to register that we’re full. Most people’s meals don’t even last that long. If we eat fast, we can continue eating past the point where we’re full. If we eat slowly, we have time to realize we’re full, and stop on time. If you’re looking to lose weight, eating slowly should be a part of your lifestyle.
  2. Enjoy your food. This reason is just as powerful, in my opinion. It’s hard to enjoy your food if it goes by too quickly. In fact, I think it’s fine to eat “sinful” foods, if you eat a small amount slowly. Think about it: you want to eat foods like desserts, fried foods and pizza because they taste good. But if you eat them fast, what’s the point? If you eat them slowly, you can get the same amount of great taste, but with less going into your stomach. Besides, I think you are just happier by tasting great food and enjoying it fully, by eating slowly. .
  3. Better digestion. If you eat slower, you’ll chew your food better, which leads to better digestion. Digestion actually starts in the mouth, so the more work you do up there, the less you’ll have to do in your stomach. This can help lead to fewer digestive problems.
  4. Disordered Eating: If you’ve ever experienced a binge episode, you’ll know the feeling, a powerful urge to get the food in there as fast as possible. One of the hallmarks of binge eating is rapid eating speed. You can often derail a binge simply by slowing down.
  5. Less stress. Eating slowly, and paying attention to our eating, can be a great form of mindfulness exercise. Be in the moment, rather than rushing through a meal thinking about what you need to do next. When you eat, you should eat. This kind of mindfulness, I believe, will lead to a less stressful life, and long-term happiness.

Helpful tips to get you started:

  • Sit down to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions. Don’t eat while driving, watching TV, or texting. Pay attention to your food.
  • Choose high fiber foods that take more time to chew, such as fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Put down your utensils between bites. Take a moment. Breathe. If you’re eating with other people, enjoy making conversation for a few minutes.
  • Try setting a minimum number of chews per bite (For me it was 25 chews). This will feel strange at first, but give it a try and see what you discover
  • Use smaller plates or different utensils. Chopsticks always make me eat slower.
  • Find another slow eater and pace yourselves to them. A chatty dinner companion who hardly stop talking long enough to take a bite are often ideal
  • Set aside time to eat. At least 20-30 minutes for each meal, and preferable even longer at dinner. Don’t just eat “whenever you get around to it” or treat it as an inconvenience. You’re fueling your body and maybe spending quality time with friends and family.

If you find yourself rushing, that’s OK.  Put your folk down and take a minute to re-focus. If slow eating isn’t habitual for you, this will take practice (it took me a while). Most of us lead hectic, fast-paced lives, so it’s understandable that we might try to rush our meals. But what I learned is eating quickly does us no favors. When we eat too quickly we end up eating more than we need, which leads to poor digestion, weight gain and lower satisfaction from eating. Eating slowly, in contrast, makes for better digestion, easier weight maintenance and greater satisfaction from our meal. I challenge you to try it!