Many health experts and diet proponents recommend eating more slowly to avoid overeating and to facilitate weight loss. Some statistics show that about 21 percent of people who generally eat slowly have an issue with obesity. On the other hand, 30 percent of average speed eaters and 45 percent of fast eaters have an issue with obesity. Why does eating more slowly reduce the likelihood of obesity and type 2 diabetes risk? There are several reasons.
Why Eat Slowly?
To begin with, the feeling of a full stomach is often what makes people stop eating and feel satisfied. In order to get that feeling, the brain has to receive signals from the digestive system that the stomach is full. As partially digested food moves through the digestive system, a complex series of hormones and signals begins to work, and it eventually sends the "full" signal to the brain. However, eating too quickly means that this system barely has time to get started before the person has likely already consumed too much food. By eating slowly and stretching a meal time over an hour or more instead of a few minutes, the all-full feeling is likely to come after much less food has been consumed.
Benefits of Eating Slowly
There are multiple smaller benefits to eating slowly, along with the larger ones of reducing risk for obesity by eating too much. One of these is better digestion: By eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly, you ensure that your digestive system is only dealing with small pieces of food. This enables it to work more effectively and to absorb nutrients better. When people eat too fast, they are inevitably swallowing large pieces of food, which then require more digestive enzymes and effort to dissolve. This can lead to uncomfortable feelings of heartburnand acid reflux.
The other top benefit to eating more slowly is that it allows you to fully savor and enjoy your food. If eating becomes less of a chore and more of an experience, you might be motivated to eat less and enjoy more.
How To Eat More Slowly
For those looking to eat more slowly, it's often easier said than done, especially when it becomes a habit. The following are some tips on how to eat more slowly:
- Change where you eat. Don't eat in front of the TV or while doing something else that causes you to be less focused on your food.
- Start counting your chews. This can make you more aware of just how long it takes to fully masticate your food. It also generates more digestive enzymes.
- Drink something between bites. Even if it's just a quick sip of wine or water. At the very least, it stops the process of adding another bite to your mouth.
- Set your utensils down between bites and don't pick them up again until you're done. Many people continue to play with their silverware and get another bite ready before fully chewing the first one.
Be sure to check out our article on how eating junk food increases your chances of cancer.