Your parents probably already told you this when you were a kid: “Eat slowly, no one will eat your food, there is enough for everybody!”, well, at least, my parents did.
Unfortunately, our culture has changed. Whether it’s all those fast food restaurants, with their quick lunch and dinner, or if it’s the trend of taking everything “to-go” and eating it while walking or driving.
We’re pushed into the direction of faster eating. In 2008, BBC even titled “Speed of eating “key to obesity”” citing a study from Osaka University. The knowledge is already there and slowly people acknowledge the fact that they shouldn’t rush their meals.
There is an entire movement called “mindful eating” that suggests to focus on the food and be fully present while eating, not thinking about all the other things you have to do.
Eating slowly is important, because otherwise your body, most important your digestive system, hasn’t time to send a signal to your brain that you are full. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register the chemicals of feeling full. If you gulp down your meal in 5 to 10 minutes, which is common, there isn’t even enough time for the chemicals to be registered.
This not only leads to eating too much food but as a consequence, people who are eating too fast have an almost 50% higher risk of obesity and also higher risks for all the associated diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Another study found out, that fast eating leads to more acid reflux, especially gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Eating too fast, leads to more air in your digestive tract. As a consequence of the additional air, your stomach produces more acid, resulting in heartburn, respectively GERD.
Eating slowly is a free lifestyle change that will not only reduce your risk for obesity and associated disease but also reduce heartburn. Tom Rath, in his book “Eat, Move, Sleep”, promotes the 20-minute rule, meaning you take at least twenty minutes to eat a meal. This should be the least amount of time you should take. Focus on this, especially when you are eating alone, because normally a meal takes longer when eaten with good friends.
Another tip is to take sips of water between chewing. This can be helpful to reduce the overall speed of eating, but I personally don’t like to drink water with my meals as it dilutes the stomach acid. This can depending on the amounts of water, lead to improper digestion.
Mindful eating is a great way to eat slower. Focus on the food and try to taste all the different tastes in the meal.
Eating slowly is great because you don’t need to develop any new habit, you just need to modify an old one. Instead of wolfing down your meal in 5 minutes, take 20 minutes. That’s only 45 minutes more per day, spend on eating, something most of us enjoy!
Do your health a favour and eat slowly!
Steps to take:
- Take at least 20 minutes for the next meal you eat. I know you might think you don’t have time for this, but trust me you will feel better and even more productive afterwards.
- If you have any digestive problems, experiment with different eating speeds and see how you feel afterwards.
- Compare the amount of food you need to feel full when you eat slowly, with the amount when you eat faster.