We all know that if you want to lose weight, you have to eat less and move more. It is simple science. Obviously actually making fat loss happen is more difficult than it sounds or we would all be our ideal weight and I wouldn’t be writing this. Of course losing weight is not always that easy, and there are many factors that play a role like genetics, age, sex, stress levels, hormones, and activity level. Some of these we can control and others we can’t. Although there are some factors we control and some we don’t, the rule is still the same, you must consume less calories than you are burning. Easier said then done, huh?
How many times have you started a diet, made it two weeks, maybe a month, then dropped out? I know I have more times than I can remember. But, luckily, I am here to tell you there is an easy method you can utilize to help you eat less and feel more satisfied! How is this possible? Usually diets are restrictive, leaving you feel hungry, deprived, and irritable. It’s possible because this is not a diet, this is a method to eat every day with every meal, with practice, for the rest of your life.
So this simple method is…SLOW DOWN. Like eat a meal for 20-30 minutes slow. I challenge you to time your next meal and you may or may not be surprised at how fast you’re eating. When I first started, I was eating my breakfast in 4 minutes and my dinners in 8! I barley was chewing or tasting the food! Once you realize how long it’s taking you to eat a meal, I want you to add a few minutes to the meal each week.
Why does it matter how fast you eat? It is ideal a meal takes 20-30 minutes because it takes appetite regulating hormones 20 some minutes to be released from the gut and get to the brain to tell you “Hey, I am full!” If a meal is consumed in 8 minutes and you find yourself still hungry, it’s because your hormones haven’t been able to catch up and actually know you’re full. Likely, if you wait 10 minutes or so, you will realize you’re no longer hungry. By slowing down your meals you may find you’re full before you’ve finished your plate. This over time will result in fewer calories consumed and weight loss.
Another benefit to eating slow is allowing your digestion to work effectively. When you smell or see a food, your mouth starts salivating. This saliva actually begins to break down the food in your mouth while you’re chewing (so chew your food well). If you eat fast and swallow huge goblets of food, it’s hard for your body to break down that food, so you digestion doesn’t get as many nutrients from the food. Eating quickly may even cause GI issues or indigestion. So digestion begins with chewing. Chew well and swallow, this will help your body to digest your food properly.
How to Eat Slow 101
Eat without distractions. In our American society we are encouraged to work until we can’t see straight, eat at our desk, and multitask while we do anything so we can do everything. Frankly this leads to less effectiveness in the task we are “focused” on. When you eat it’s best to eat and only eat. That means no news, no TV, no Instagram or other social media, or cell phone use. Studies have found when people eat un-distracted, they are able to regulate their speed easier and are more satisfied after your meal. Pay closer attention to the food you’re eating by acting as though you’re drinking wine. (Bet that got you excited?!) Focus on the smell, the texture, and the flavors. This amplifies your eating experience resulting in greater pleasure from your meal.
Put the Fork Down. Putting your utensil down between bites will also slow your roll. Take a bite, put the utensil down, take a sip of water, take a breath, and pick utensil back up. This forces you to take more time between each bite. You can even enjoy some conversation between bites.
Set a Number of Chews per Bite. Personally I don’t love this method because I don’t want to be counting while I am eating, but you can say chew your food 20 times before you swallow, or whatever number you chews. hahaha.
Use Different Utensils. Utilize chopsticks when eating or eat with the utensil in your non-dominant hand. This will slow you down for sure!
Pace Yourself with Someone Else who Eats Slow. Kids usually eat slow. Pace yourself with them.
Set a Specific Time to Eat. Instead of just randomly eating when you get around to it, set a specific time to eat. Allow yourself 20-30 minutes to eat the meal. This may take some extra planning but I know you can make it happen.
If you find Yourself Rushing. Take a few breaths to reset yourself. This will take practice and time to get it down.
So it’s pretty basic, slow down while eating, you’ll feel more satisfied and eat less! It is basic but it does take practice. Begin by choosing one meal (pick one to start with-dinner may be the easiest but it really depends on your life and schedule) you want to extend your eating time. Then add a few minutes onto that meal, the next week or day (whatever works for you) add on a few more minutes, until you’re taking about 20 minutes to eat the meal. Once you’re able to eat this meal slowly, you can try to tackle other meals as well.
Be patient with yourself, you may even forget to practice slow eating altogether and that’s okay! However, when you do remember, practice the habit when you can!
Personally, I realized I was eating extremely fast and I was eating way more than I needed. When I slowed down, I would be 3/4 of the way through my plate and feel full. It’s an eye opening experience! If you do try this out, I would love to hear how it works for you (comment below).