Slow Down

I often find myself mindlessly inhaling my food.  Breakfasts are often spent over reading a newspaper and lunches are often consumed while scanning other interesting blogs.  Two whole meals where my mind is often not focused on my food, but rather competing with some other activity that lay before me.  This frequently leads me to shoving down food faster than I can think about it, leaving me feeling unsatisfied after finishing an entire meal.

I know I am not the only one who needs a little reminder to slow down and take the time to savor my food.  In fact, numerous studies have been conducted in order to show some of the negative consequences of gobbling down food in short periods of time.   Recently, researchers reported in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism that eating too quickly can lead to overconsumption.  Previous studies have shown this to be true, but this study may have uncovered a possible reason as to why rapid eating leads to overconsumption.  After conducting several tests on a volunteer group, researchers found that eating too fast may block the release of gut hormones that help make you feel full.  The missing feeling of being full can lead one to reach for more food after already consuming a sufficient meal.

Another study reported in the British Medical Journal, found that those who eat quickly and until they are full are most likely to be obese.  The study was conducted on 4140 Japanese men and women, and even after changing the fiber intake, those who ate quicker had higher levels of body mass index.

Whether it’s a hormonal difference or even just a mental disparity, for most people, eating quicker leads to excessive eating habits.  This approach to eating may not just cause you to gain weight (oh no), but it will also shorten the length of meal times.  While most people would agree that they would like to chow down on scrumptious foods for longer periods of time, many forget that this can be done without adding an additional load of calories to your plate by simply slowing down and allowing your taste buds to fully savor what is being eaten.  Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a rich, chocolaty piece of cake for an extra 5 minutes?

The next time you sit down for a meal, before you even lift your fork or spoon up to your mouth, take a moment to breathe in the aromas of your food.  Take a few seconds to close your eyes, consciously bring yourself to the present moment, and prepare yourself to fully dedicate the next 30-60 minutes entirely to eating, enjoying, and appreciating the food on your plate.  Once you begin eating, make a conscious effort to chew each bite at least 20 times.  The macrobiotic diet, a style of wholesome eating that originated in Japan, actually recommends chewing 50-100 times per bite!

By slowing down your eating habits, you can more easily bring yourself to the present moment and increase your mindfulness and over all well-being.  You can also increase the time you spend each day on one of life’s greatest pleasures: food!

Side Note- In response to my fasting experience: I actually feel a lot better today than yesterday.  Is this because of the fasting?  Who knows, but I certainly don’t feel any worse.  I broke my fast with a light breakfast of an apple and some thinned oatmeal.  While my glands are still tender, I’ve felt much better throughout the whole day today.

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  • Reply
    November 18, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I ALWAYS have to remind myself to take a breath and slow down.. great post!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Eating way too fast has always been a huge problem with me. My mom eats super fast too. I wonder if its like genetic or something?

    Anyways, ive been trying to slow it down for a while, and the counting your chews idea sounds good. the more you chew, the more calories you burn off anyway… right??

    Good post. 🙂

  • Reply
    Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    November 18, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog and really enjoy it. Who knew the macrobiotic diet required so many chews? I wrote about this the other day ( because my family always made fun of my slow eating when I was growing up.

    And, yes, chocolate cake is best when spread over 5, 10, or 15 minutes. It’s almost like you’re eating more!

  • Reply
    Laura Metzdorff, L.Ac
    November 18, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    In Chinese Medicine we learn that the Spleen is related to pensiveness and study. Eating while reading (which I am tragically guilty of) can tire the Spleen (and Stomach) leading to fatigued GI function. Taking the time to enjoy our food, without distractions, encourages healthy digestion and keeps the Spleen happy.

  • Reply
    Laura Metzdorff, L.Ac
    November 18, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Oh yeah, for more info about the Spleen…..

  • Reply
    November 19, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Love your writing! I wish I could get a Journalism gig soooo bad – maybe I should just start writing a book?…but I’m afraid it’ll be a waste of time and I’ll be going in circles…but now in regards to YOUR post -haha – yes, your absolutely right, I always mindlessly eat – it’s horrible – I’m aware of it but still do it – I also live by myself and HAVE to have the TV or some background noise on …I don’t know, I hope it balances out with time…hope you feel better 🙂

  • Reply
    November 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    haha and see, I find that when I choose to read while eating, or read blogs/newspaper, I actually naturally take longer to eat, because I am so captivated with whatever else I’m doing. 🙂

    Great post still though.

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    November 19, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Glad to hear that you don’t feel worse. Perhaps the fasting is a good idea. I don’t know that I could do it, but whatever works I guess!

    I think this study seems sort of obvious, right? I mean if it takes 15-20 minutes for our bodies to feel full, it would make sense that eating slowly would prevent us from eating too much. I am guilty of eating too fast sometimes. I really try to slow down, but you are right, I need to remember that the slower I eat, the longer I can ENJOY the food! Chewing 50-100 times sounds ridiculous to me. I don’t want to turn my food into pureed mush, no thanks!

  • Reply
    In Touch Nutrition
    November 25, 2009 at 2:30 am

    I totally agree when you say:
    “simply slowing down and allowing your taste buds to fully savor what is being eaten… Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a rich, chocolaty piece of cake for an extra 5 minutes?”
    It is true that we eat less when we slow down and use our senses to enjoy what we are eating. Great post!

  • Reply
    The Kind Diet, Review « Food-Fitness-FreshAir
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    […] in which I’m interested, or have even previously blogged about, such as fake sweeteners, mindful eating and being conscious of your chewing habits, and “the great soy […]

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