In today’s society, fast-paced lifestyle is an understatement. Long are the days that we sat down and had dinner today and talked about our day. We are often having our meals “on-the-go” and gobbling it down as fast as possible to move onto the next task or to-do. Did you know, however, that this could be part of reason that we’re also gaining weight?
Eating too quickly hinders the communication between the brain and the stomach. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to let you know “Hey, I’m satisfied!” When was the last time you spent a minimum of 20 minutes on your meals? We have a hormone, Leptin that is released to tell us that we’re full. If we don’t slow down, we don’t give the body time to release Leptin and, therefore, don’t recognize the feeling of fullness. The plate is empty, we still feel hungry, and we eat more. The extra calories add up! If the speed-eating habit continues, over time we lose sight of the feeling of fullness. As my mom likes to say, “Our stop button is broken!”
Besides avoiding extra calories, there are a few other reasons we should slow down when eating. Benefits of purposeful eating include better digestion, better hydration, easier weight loss or maintenance, and greater satisfaction. Better digestion, in my opinion, is a huge benefit since so many people suffer from GI distress on a daily basis. When food touches our lips, the digestion process begins. The breakdown of food is not as efficient if we don’t chew enough or allow time for our digestive enzymes to be released from organs such as the liver, pancreas, and stomach. The statement “My eyes were bigger than my stomach” that accompanies that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach usually ends with improper digestion. Long term, this is why people suffer from such ailments as indigestion, constipation, and IBS.
Here are a few tips from precisionnutrition.com to help you take time while eating:
• Sit down to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions.
• Choose high-fiber foods that take more time to chew.
• Put down your utensils between bites.
• Try setting a minimum number of chews per bite.
• Use smaller plates or different utensils.
• If you find yourself rushing, that’s OK. Put your utensils down to re-focus.
• Find another slow eater and pace yourselves to them.
• Set aside time to eat.
Tonight, slow down and enjoy your meal. Your stomach and scale will thank you!