It's no secret we live in a super hectic time. I mean really hectic. Just think about your average day. Maybe it goes something like this: jump out of bed in the morning, rush to get ready, scarf down breakfast in 2 minutes (or skip it), fight traffic to get to work, endless meetings, emails, text messages, phone calls, maybe have time for lunch or a working lunch at your desk, more emails, meetings and messages, spend some time on social media, fight traffic to the gym (maybe), eat dinner in 10 minutes, have some down time, throw in some kids and family time (if applicable), and collapse into bed after. Sounds exhausting, I know I was exhausted just writing it! And to top it all off, our over stimulated, hectic lives have one really bad effect. Stress. Stress is a killer. No if this was your day, do you feel in control? Slow eating is about taking back some control, in an area where it will do the most good: your eating habits and nutrition. This is 20% time. It is important.
Now don't think eating slow is easy. I still constantly struggle with it. However in my coaching this a foundational habit. The premise is simple, take 20 minutes to eat each meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. That's it. Try it. I will repeat, it's not easy. The first thing you should do is start to measure how you actually eat right now, write it down for a couple of days. See where you are at. Then, over time slowly (haha) add 1 or 2 minutes to your target eating time. Remember slow progress is still progress. If you add only 1 minute per day, you would take less than a month to hit the target. If you struggle with some ideas oh the how to eat slower, here are some tips:
- set aside adequate time to eat, put it in your calendar if you must
- use a timer or an app to track time
- concentrate on eating, no TV, no phone, no computer. Just you and your food
- put down your utensils between each bite, chew slowly and thoughtfully
- really taste your food, paying attention to textures and flavours
- take a sip of water between bites
- take time for a breath or 3 between bites
- sit down to eat, don't eat standing up
- talk to the people you eat with
Now if this helps with the how, then the next thing is why. A clear why helps us do things, it is key to keeping motivation. Here are some benefits of slow eating. Oh. ANd an experiment.
1. Tune into our hunger and fullness cues
Did you know it takes up to 20 minutes for our satiety hormones to kick in? Yep. 20 minutes. You didn't think the timing was random did you? Now what this means is that as we eat, our body naturally tells us when to stop, we have just forgotten how to listen to it. By slowing down, we learn to tune back into these feelings. Each thoughtfully chewed and swallowed bite will make us more full. Notice how that feels. And then stop when you are satisfied, not full or stuffed. When we eat too fast, we miss these feelings, the hormones haven't had time to kick in and only when they do we know we ate too much. Bleh. Not a great feeling.
2. Aids digestion and nutrient absorption
Have you ever ate a meal in 5 minutes or less and felt bloated and/or have indigestion? It sucks. Our digestive system, works in 3 main parts: The mouth, the stomach and the intestines. Eating slowly keeps the mouth doing its job, releasing enzymes, and and breaking up the food up into smaller particles that make it easier for the stomach and intestines do their work. The more efficient our digestion is, the better we can absorb the nutrients from the food we eat. Compare this to eating fast where you chew a couple of times and then swallow. The stomach and intestines have to work much harder and digestion becomes inefficient. Not to mention the bloat and indigestion.
3. Helps aid weight loss
The cool thing about eating slow is we tend to eat less. This is good news if you are trying to lose fat. The satiety hormones (once they kick in and we know how to listen for them) will naturally tell us to stop eating when the body has enough nutrients.. One study found that people who ate slower consumed around 11% less calories overall, even though they spent longer eating. Makes you think. If you can cut over 10% of your calories almost effortlessly, you got to be moving in the right direction.
4. Helps make better food choices
Try this experiment:
Eat fast food slowly. Go on try. Supersize that sucker too.
Think about how the food make you feel. My theory is that its called "fast food' cause you need to eat it quick before you actually taste it. Hit me up in the comments below if you try. When you slowly and thoughtfully eat your food, you just seem to naturally care more about what is in it. At least I do. Again try it.
The low down
Most of us lead hectic lives, so it’s easy to see that we might try to rush our meals, without even realising it. But eating quickly doesn't help us. When we eat too quickly we end up eating more, have poor digestion, increase our risk for weight gain, and have lower satisfaction from our meals. Not to mention feeling stuffed, bloated and suffering from indigestion. Eating slowly, in contrast, makes for better digestion, easier weight maintenance – and much greater satisfaction and fullness from our meals. If that's not win, win, win, I don't know what is.
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