How many of us have to rush to eat at least one meal a day? Maybe you have to rush through all of them or at least you feel like you have to. We’ve probably all had to scarf down a meal at some point in our lives, and even though we likely know it’s not good, we still continue to do it – whether we feel like we have to or because it’s just what we’re used to.
I have no idea why or how I became one of those people who shovels her food into her mouth in record time, but I’m one of those people. I have been for as long as I can remember, and even my mom will tell you that as soon as I was born, I was screaming because hungry. I don’t really remember much about meal time before I started school, but in elementary school, we had minimal time to eat lunch before we were shoved out the door for recess. I imagine this is where I learned to scarf down my meals, but I can’t be certain.
Eating quickly can cause a lot of issues for us, and one of those issues is overeating. Because it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to relay to our brain that we’re full, it is quite easy to overeat if we’re not taking our time eating a meal. When we eat too quickly, not only are we likely to overeat, but our bodies can’t digest food as well as they would if we ate slowly. This can lead to digestive system discomfort and malabsorption of nutrients. If we are able to slow down when we eat, we will feel more relaxed and satisfied and will be able to properly digest our meals without discomfort.
There are a few tips to eating slowly that I like to share with clients. Setting aside time to sit down and enjoy your food can help you feel less rushed, and if you already do this, add five to 10 minutes to the time you already allot for meals. Sitting down while you eat, rather than eating on the go or multitasking, puts your focus on your food. This will not only allow you to enjoy how your food tastes, but it will promote slower eating.
Holding your utensil in your non-dominant hand and removing distractions such as TV, cellphones, and newspapers or magazines may also be beneficial to eating more slowly. Between each bite it can be helpful to take time to put your fork down, take a drink, or say something to whomever you’re eating with (without food in your mouth). I have found setting down my fork (or spoon) and taking a drink between bites to be the most effective methods for slowing down my eating.
Forming new habits takes time and practice, so whatever method(s) you choose to help you eat more slowly, be consistent. At first it will take a lot of conscious effort, but once you’ve been practicing these habits for a while, they will become second nature, and voila – you’ll be eating slower in no time!
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A