The importance of eating slowly
Sensing satisfaction: One of the most important benefits of eating slowly is that it gives your body time to recognise that you’re full. It takes about 20 minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to send out signals of satiety. Most people’s meals don’t even last that long! Eating slowly also helps feel more satisfied — which is different from just being “full”.
Improved digestion: Eating slowly also helps digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth, so large bites that are inadequately chewed will be more difficult for your stomach to process. Food that isn’t properly broken down can lead to indigestion and other potential GI (Gastro-Intestinal) problems.
Smaller portions: Most of the research on this topic suggests that eating slowly helps you to eat less. That’s especially useful if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight.
Better hydration: Good hydration helps maintain the balance of our body’s fluids, energises muscles, helps our kidneys and bowels work more efficiently, and improves the appearance of the skin. And one side benefit of eating slowly is that it increases water consumption during meals.
Conversely, if you rush your meals, your digestion suffers. And it might seem like each meal is over too soon, which often makes you want to eat more. Or you “overshoot the runway”, finishing the meal before your natural satiety signals kick in, and ending up suddenly uncomfortably overstuffed.
Is eating quickly bad?
Weight gain: Most of the research concurs that those who habitually eat fast gain more weight over time than slow eaters. If weight loss or maintenance is your goal, slow down.
Disordered eating and eating speed: One of the reasons for binge eating is rapid speed eating. People who suffer from compulsive eating often feel out of control of their eating behaviour. When you’re in the grip of a binge or an overeating episode that feels overwhelming, just try to slow down as soon as you realise what’s happening.
Tips for mindful eating
- Sit down to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions. Don’t eat while driving, watching TV, fiddling with gadgets, etc. Pay attention to your plate.
- Choose high-fiber foods that take more time to chew, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Put down your utensils between bites. Take a moment. Breathe. If you’re eating with other people, enjoy making conversation for a few minutes.
- Try setting a minimum number of chews per bite. This will feel strange at first, but give it a try and see. It would improve your digestion and kick off satiety signals.
- Use smaller plates. Using smaller plates would result in less loading of your plate.
- Find another slow eater and pace yourselves to them.
- Set aside time to eat – at least 20-30 minutes for each meal. Plan your meal timing and avoid distractions during your mealtime.