How to Eat Slowly: 8 Simple Steps
We live in a society where speed is “of the essence”. Many seem to think that going slow is a sign of weakness and anything that takes up too much time is an inconvenience. That’s why we have fast food, same-day-delivery, and express lines. However, fast isn’t always better. Eating, for example, is not meant to be done in a few minutes.
In the US, the average meal only lasts for eleven minutes. People who work in the offices take as short as two minutes to gobble up their lunch. Do you know that fast eaters are 11% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome? This could lead to hypertension, insulin resistance, and abnormal cholesterol. For this reason alone, you need to learn how to eat slower.
I Want to Slow Down Eating
You would think that eating slowly would come naturally. It should be so simple that one wouldn’t need to learn it. However, you would be surprised how hard it could be. Try it for yourself, sit down for a meal and try to keep track of how fast you consume everything. If you have gotten used to eating fast, slowing down can be a little challenging. If you want to learn how to slow down eating, this article enumerates steps you can take in order to develop the habit.
Sit down For a Meal
Most people nowadays do not sit down at the table to have their meals. Eating over the sink has become a common practice. Some people also choose not to eat at home. They eat their food on the go. They usually grab something that they can eat while making their way to wherever they need to be. While this sounds efficient, it is really bad for you.
First of all, most food that you can eat on the go lack nutrition. Additionally, if your mind is on walking, commuting, or driving, you’d end up eating too fast. By choosing to sit down for a meal, you shift your focus on what you eat. You can actively choose to eat slower since your attention is on the food.
Never Eat Alone
Eating with a company is a good way to slow down. When you are around people, you are compelled to talk to them. You have to stop eating in order to converse with other people. These pauses in eating can help teach you how to eat more slowly. It is a good idea to schedule regular family meal nights where you try out new recipes.
Not only will it help you develop better eating habits, but you also get to foster a bond with your loved ones. If you are away from your family, try inviting friends or co-workers for meals. You might even want to share your food. This will reduce your food intake.
Look at Your Food not TV
A lot of people use their meal times to unwind and catch up on their TV shows, so they end up eating their meals in front of the television. With this setup, the attention goes to what one is watching rather than on what he or she is eating.
If you don’t pay attention to what you eat, you end up gobbling it up. Plus, since your mind is elsewhere, you can’t avoid overeating. By focusing on your food, you can enjoy your meal and put more effort into controlling how fast you chew and swallow each bite.
Try Chewing Slowly
Speaking of controlling how fast you chew, chewing slower is another way to train yourself on how to eat slowly. Try counting how many chews it takes until your food no longer has lumps. Try to stick to that constant number of chews before swallowing.
This technique also improves digestion and burns up to 10 extra calories, so you gain the added benefit of losing weight. Counting calories may be a little tedious at first so try to make it into a game. Soon, you’ll be doing it out of habit and won’t notice how tedious it could be.
Drink More Water
Some people are used to drinking only after they are done eating. If you are one of those people, try taking a few sips of your drink in between bites instead of waiting for the end of the meal. By pausing and drinking, you are forced to put down your spoon and slow down.
Taking in more liquids also helps you fill up faster and prevent you from eating too much. This is going to help you if you are trying to lose weight. But you have to stay away from drinks that are rich in sugar. Stick to water if you can.
Eat Small Meals
Most people are used to eating three large meals per day. The problem with this setup is that you often wait too long for the next meal that you start feeling starved. By the time the next meal time comes, you are already ravenous that you tend to scarf down the food in minutes and ruin your diet. To prevent this, try eating 5 or more small meals throughout the day.
By eating every three hours or so, you don’t feel as hungry and you can control the speed by which you eat your food. You also rev up your metabolism. Just remember to watch the size of the portion that you consume. The key is to eat less but more often.
20 Minutes RuleIf you are having troubles prolonging your meals, it might be helpful to set a timer and observe the 20-minute rule. This is a sure way for you to eat slowly. If you are asking, “how slow should you eat?” then the answer is about twenty minutes. Many experts believe that each meal should ideally last this length of time.
You can divide the food on your plate into twenty bites and work on each bite for one minute. By looking at a timer, you are more conscious of how fast or how slow you are eating. This also eliminates the need to count your chews, which is admittedly difficult to do. You just need to work on chewing your spoonful for a minute then move on to the next.
Have a Snack
This last suggestion is applicable if you are not able to eat smaller but more frequent meals during the day. The same principle applies. If you starve yourself, you are more likely to binge eat. By eating snacks, you prevent the hunger pangs from building, allowing you more control over the speed by which you eat your meals.
If you feel yourself starting to get hungry but your next meal time is still a few hours away, reach for a healthy, protein-packed snack. A piece of fruit or a handful of pistachios will help. Maybe try to go for foods that are harder to get at like pistachios or fruits with peels that you cannot eat. Having to peel or shell your snack will force you to slow down eating. Keep this in mind the next time you shop for snacks.
Eating slower than your usual pace is good for your health. Not only will it prevent you from developing metabolic syndrome, but it also improves digestion. By training yourself how to eat slow, you are enabling your body to recognize that it is no longer hungry.
You are able to stop eating immediately and prevent overeating. By doing so, you do not consume extra calories and could ultimately lead to weight loss. So, give yourself the gift of better health by learning to eat at a slower pace.