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3 Reasons Why I Eat Slowly, And How to Do It

Three Reasons Why I Eat Slowly, And How to Do It
Image by
ButterflySha (license).

”The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor.”
Chinese Proverb

”A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will’s freedom after it.”
Aldous Huxley

I like to eat slowly. A meal takes thirty minutes or sometimes an hour. But pretty often I forget about this. So I thought I’d write an article about it to keep as a reminder. Something to take a look at whenever I get caught up in stressful eating. Here are three good reasons to eat slowly.

1. You get to really feel the different tastes and textures.

Eating can become a lot more pleasurable if you slow down. If you just wolf it down you never notice nuances in taste and texture. It’s like trying to appreciate the nature, the light, the colors, the beautiful surroundings while driving really fast.

Also, I like how the textures and tastes shift as food becomes less hot.

2. You reduce the risk of overeating.

It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. That’s because the food has to reach the intestines before your body starts sending signals telling your brain that you feel full. By slowing down your eating your brain can stop you before you eat too much.

3. You reduce the risk of getting an upset stomach.

Eating too fast can lead to digestion problems. It can also lead to you feeling more stressed throughout your day. Something that can also cause stomach problems, headaches and other health problems. See your meals as a time and place where you can take it easy and de-stress your mind and body.

How to do it.

Three simple tips that I have found useful are:

Eat before you get ridiculously hungry.

If you’re really hungry it will be hard to eat slowly. The best way to avoid this is to not wait for too long but to eat when you feel just a little hungry. Or to have your meals at specified times during the day that you know from experience will be appropriate to avoid getting too hungry.

Put down your fork between the bites.

The classic advice is to put down your fork and then chew. Then to pick up your fork again after you’ve swallowed, take another bite and repeat the process. I like this tip because it forces you to slow down. Instead of taking that stressed energy from your day and just letting it power through the meal too as you quickly wolf down everything on your plate.

Focus on the food and yourself. Not on what other people are doing.

It’s easy to get drawn into someone else’s pace while eating (just like when driving or running). Be conscious of keeping your own pace instead of just unconsciously eating as fast as everyone around the table might do.

Being aware of this challenge can help you. Being present throughout your meal can also be useful to keep a good pace and fully enjoy the food. You can find a few simple ways to reconnect with the present moment in this article.

What´s your experience with eating at a slower pace?

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  • Writer Dad August 28, 2008, 7:42 pm

    I could benefit from every one of these tips. I barely chew, and I often feel bad after my meal. My wife will spend an hour cooking, and I scarf it down, barely tasting. Not cool at all.

  • Cyrock August 28, 2008, 9:58 pm

    Something you can do is simply to relax a before eating. Just one minute. You have to realize that eating is a pleasure, not a task.

  • Henrik Edberg August 28, 2008, 10:17 pm

    Writer Dad: Yeap, I do that too from time to time. Good point about the cooking time too. To cook for an hour and scarf it down in 5 minutes feels wrong.

    Cyrock: Good tip to shift the mindset. I´ll try a few belly breaths before eating.

  • Tabs at Levnow August 29, 2008, 1:44 am

    I grew up in boarding school, you ate fast and got out of dining hall, eating alone I can wolf down a steak dinner in five minutes, every single item on your list will help me,

    Thanks

    -Tabs

  • Shanel Yang August 29, 2008, 2:26 am

    I learned to eat fast from my dad who made it a contest in our home to see if I or any of my sisters could keep up with him at the dinner table. What a sight! I guess I shouldn’t be proud but I was the only one who could even come close. : )

    Learning how to eat slowly came … well, very slowly. In fact, I never could master that skill at all until I finished my last water fast and ended up with a mostly raw food diet. It’s near impossible to wolf down raw carrots or broccoli. You have to chew most raw vegetables and some raw fruit very slowly to break down the nutrients in them so they can be properly absorbed into the bloodstream. I learned about all this from a YouTube video I posted and about transcribed called “Naturally Beautiful Skin” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/08/03/naturally-beautiful-skin/ Very eye-opening stuff! Just one more reason to stay on my mostly raw food diet. Oh, and my water fast was chronicled in a day-to-day “Fasting Log” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/07/03/fasting-log-day-1/ I highly recommend it for everyone, except persons suffering from liver cancer. Of course everyone should consult a doctor first! : )

  • Mike King August 29, 2008, 6:14 am

    interesting ideas Henrik,

    Your point about focus on yourself and not what others are doing I have some comments on. I see your point that you don’t want to be caught into eating quicker and not enjoying your own experience of eating but I find that its much easier to eat slower when you are dining with a friend. Conversation definitely slows your pace when eating and it gives you a great chance to enjoy the food more.

    I personally LOVE to eat and its all about the flavor, the joy of chewing and experiencing the food. I’m not picky and definitely no food critic, but I love it none the less. Nice idea for an article!

  • DanGTD August 29, 2008, 10:32 am

    You forgot an important and motivating reason:)

    - You lose weight if you eat slowly.

    It takes about 20 minutes for our brain to register that we are full. If we eat fast, we will past the point where we’re full.

  • Linda Senn August 29, 2008, 6:59 pm

    The good news is my grandfather, who was of German heritage, taught my father, who then taught me, that you were to chew each bite of food 20 times, and were also to “briefly” chew your milk to mix the saliva enzymes into the milk before swalling it. Odds are I would have been a slow eater anyway. But I pretty much hold the family and community title for slowest eater at any table – except when it comes to dessert. But I view mealtimes as relaxed times – which is great!

    Linda

  • Lisa August 31, 2008, 3:31 am

    This post is exactly how I like to eat. I’m a slow eater. When with family, I’m always the last to finish. But I like eating slow (this article explains many reasons why). One tip I suggest is when you talk to someone during the meal, to look at them and not at your food. That way you’ll enjoy their company more and stay focused/remember more of the conversation, and you’ll less likely to eat fast by just watching the fork pick up food. Another tip is during the meal to reflect over the moment and think of all the blessings you’ve been given that day and think of all the people or moments you are thankful for. It will help you focus less on just eating. I think that also making the actual meal helps because you cherish more of what you are eating.

  • cyberpenguin August 31, 2008, 4:11 am

    Great tips! I found out about your article thanks to my friend Tim, who recently mentioned this article on his blog. I subscribe to many of these notions; eating slowly is more than just about maintaining your weight; it’s about truly learning to enjoy the experience of eating & the pleasures of food. I talk a lot about this as well on both my foodie/recipe & running blogs.

  • Chris Edgar August 31, 2008, 8:53 am

    Thanks for this piece. I’ve also found that taking conscious bites of my food, with no other stimulation like the radio or music in the background, helps me to keep my focus on this moment rather than lost in the past or future. It’s kind of like conscious breathing that way. — Best, Chris

  • Effortless Abundance August 31, 2008, 1:31 pm

    I eat very slowly. Don’t know why but I always have. It does mean you end up eating less!

  • Chris Hughes September 1, 2008, 6:19 am

    I really like this blog. Great stuff! I wrote an article about why we should eat organic. Take a look.

    http://www.pd4free.com/2008/06/02/why-eat-organic/

    Chris Hughes

  • Kelly September 4, 2008, 2:46 am

    Do you drive everyone nuts eating slowly? I know I do. I have always been a slow eater, so is my niece, and everyone seems to find it irritating that they are done and I am maybe halfway through the meal. It’s just my nature. But that is why I am still thin and they are not…I eat slow, they wolf it down. Good post.

    ~Kelly
    http://www.30somethingandsearching.today.com/

  • sloweater September 4, 2008, 11:43 am

    I started eating slow 1 week ago and I have been losing weight at an amazing rate. I take 1 good size bite a minute (and chew it well)for the first 4 minutes and then I gradually take smaller bites (still only one a minute) for the next 11 – 12 minutes. after 15 minutes I´am always full and dont want to eat more. I always drink water betweens bites. I eat like this no matter what, where or when I eat. I have lost 2,5 kilos this first week and I´am not even on a diet, I eat all i want and I´am never hungry.

  • candy September 4, 2008, 10:16 pm

    I can definitely benefit from these tips – I am the fastest eater I know (have no idea why) but often that makes dinner parties awkward as everyone else tries to eat fast to catch up with me and I am left twiddling my thumbs a bit!

    candy
    carrieanddanielle.com

  • Top 10 Lists September 7, 2008, 4:06 pm

    This is incredibly hard to do. Putting down the fork is a good idea, unless you are eating a sandwhich. I am always the first done eating at most tables, so slowing down is a goal. Thank you for the good advice.

  • LordMike October 28, 2008, 7:37 am

    Hello,

    I find eating slow very important and I try to do it as often as possible!

    But I personally like Healthy food much more to eat slowly, it’s like meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts and fish are made to eat slowly.

    I have really seen the difference between eating slowly healthy food and fast unhealthy food, like chips, candy, bread, etc.

    Keep up this good blog, thanks alot for this positive news !

  • Grim October 30, 2008, 6:09 pm

    just wanted to find a way to fill myself up at lunch being that I eat late due to the school’s timing Also they don’t give me much at all …I often go into my next class hungry….just wanted to say thanks for the tips

  • Juan J. Ramirez October 25, 2009, 7:17 am

    Keep your food hot on the plate or you will never acquire the habit. make eating slowly a pleasant experience