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.