Slow Down, You Eat Too Fast
Eat less and enjoy it more with mindful eating
Have you ever noticed how long it takes most thin people to eat their meals?
My sister was always the last one to finish her meal, and it drove the rest of
the family crazy. We were sure it was her ploy to get out of clearing the table
or doing the dishes! It was not until years later that I realized her slow
eating is the secret to her trim figure.
Most Americans eat too fast, and, as a result, they take in too many
calories before they realize they've eaten enough. It takes approximately 20
minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of
fullness. Leisurely eating allows ample time to trigger the signal from your
brain that you are full. And feeling full translates into eating less.
Recent research presented at a meeting of the North American Association for
the Study of Obesity showed that overweight men and women took in fewer
calories when they slowed their normal eating pace. And a recent Japanese study
involving 1,700 young women concluded that eating more slowly resulted in
feeling full sooner, and thus eating fewer calories at mealtime.
It's especially important for people who have had gastric bypass operations
to heed advice to eat slowly. A study of gastric bypass patients showed that
those who ate too fast and failed to recognize the signs of satiety were less
successful at losing weight than other patients.
The Pleasure Principle
Not only does eating slowly and mindfully help you eat less, it enhances the
pleasure of the dining experience. To master the art of slow eating, put on
some music, light a few candles, turn off the TV and any other distractions,
and concentrate on your meal.
A perfect place to start is with dessert. Let's be honest, who is still
hungry when dessert arrives? But our innate desire for sweets nonetheless makes
desserts very tempting.
You can have your cake and eat it, too -- as long as you only take a
few bites. Take a bite, eat it slowly, savor it, and do nothing but enjoy the
flavor, texture, and experience of the delicious dessert. You will find that
one or two bites give you the sweet indulgence without a lot of extra
Not as Easy as It Sounds
It's true that eating slowly and taking smaller bites can be very difficult
to do, especially when you are busy and famished. But you'll find it easier to
slow the pace if you eat regular meals, and never allow more than four hours to
pass between meals.
At times when you're very busy, schedule "nourishment breaks" into
your day. Take 15 minutes to relax, recharge, and refuel. These minibreaks will
help you relieve stress, too.