Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Being in the restaurant industry I have always been a ultra fast eater, munching meals quickly to get done with it and get back to work. Eating slowly is such a simple concept yet seldom followed. My wife had to literally hold my hand in between bites during meals to get me into the habit. It's irritating in the start but give yourself some time and you'll see the difference once you have created the awareness. The secret is in the smaller things and this is one of the important steps in eating healthy which we often overlook because it seems so futile.
Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes
Why is it important to eat food slowly?
Think of digestion as a chain reaction. As soon as we see, smell, or think about food (step 1), we start salivating to prepare for putting that food in our mouth (step 2). Saliva contains enzymes that break the food down and moistens the mouth for easier swallowing. Meanwhile, digestive steps 3, 4, 5 etc. have to get ready to go to work. Our stomachs start to secrete more acid. Our small intestine starts to get ready and so forth. If we rush this process, we force our GI tract to deal with stuff before it’s fully prepared.
Benefits of eating slowly
One of the most important benefits of eating slowly is that it gives your body time to recognize that you’re full. It takes about twenty 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! Imagine the extra calories you could ingest simply because you didn’t allow your body time to register that it no longer required food.
Just remember digestion starts in your mouth and ends with a stroll. These are the two things in our control to feel light after every meal.
Some Helpful Tips for Eating Slowly
1. Put down your cutlery between bites. Take a moment. Breathe. If you’re eating with other people, enjoy making witty conversation for a few minutes.
2. Sit down to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions. Don’t eat while driving, while watching TV, while texting, etc. Pay attention to your food.
3. Choose high-fiber foods that take more time to chew, such as fresh vegetables.
4. Try setting a minimum number of chews before you swallow. Minimum 40 chews is a good place to start. This will feel strange at first, but give it a try and see what you discover.
5. Use smaller plates or different cutlery (such as chopsticks, Spoon, Fork).
Are you a slow eater or a fast eater? Count how many times you chew before swallowing your food. Let me know in the comments.
P.S. - And most importantly food is so much more enjoyable when had slowly, isn't it?