Eat Slowly: It Really Does Work

By Jim F

i-b580f479e31aa3b7ec5ba626b56e1349-pasta.jpgAn increasing number of books advise eating slowly – but what evidence is there to back this advice? Finally a small study has shown that eating slowly really can lead to reduced caloric intake and an increased sense of fullness.Lead researcher Kathleen Melanson had 30 normal-weight college-age women consumer a large bowl of pasta. They were asked to eat the food quickly. On a second occasion they were asked to eat the same meal – but to really take their time.

The Results

  • Eating quickly – consumed 646 calories in 9 minutes.
  • Eating slowly – consumed 579 calories in 29 minutes.

Upon completion of the meal and an hour afterward, the women were less satisfied and hungrier when eating quickly compared with when they ate slowly. They said they enjoyed the meal more when they were taking their time. (via USA Today)

More water was consumed during the “slow eat” – so this may have contributed to the feeling of fullness.

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism discovered that when participants ate an ice cream over the course of 30 minutes, they had higher levels of gut hormones that trigger satiety, than those who ate the ice cream in 5 minutes.

5 Tricks to Eating Slowly

  • Eat mindfully. Sit at a table, not on your couch, and never in front of the TV or in your car. Note how long it takes you to finish a meal.
  • Set your fork down between each bite while you savor your food and swallow. Enjoy some dinner conversation, then have another bite. Better yet, try eating with chopsticks!
  • Practice a slower pace at meal time. So often we’re pressed into hurrying through meals by other responsibilities. Schedule meals so that you have time to relax and enjoy your food.
  • Stop half way through your meal, drink some water, and as yourself, “Am I full?”
  • Change the way you look at meals and mealtime. Spend time creating healthy meals with a variety of tastes and textures.

Just like changing any other habit, learning to slow down at meal times takes practice and hard work.

Treating mealtime as a time to recharge and nourish your body will not only repair an unhealthy relationship with food, But, giving those hormones in your gut a chance to catch up will reduce the number of calories eaten at each sitting.

28 Comments

  1. Juan

    Google “Eating slowly”; there is lots of information that support the article above and that explain why and how it works to avoid overeating and so prevents obesity, even helps lose weight.

    Reply
  2. Juan

    Eat slowly on a “plate for eating slowly” (There are several brands on the market nowadays)or your food will get cold; eating slowly is supposed to be a nice experience or you will never acquire the habit

    Reply
  3. Thomas Greco

    I have heard that eating slower is an important step in getting the most from your food. It does make sence.Chew and take smaller bites, rather than filling up your mouth, minimum chewing and then swallowing, is so uncool. I do try to eat well. Small portions, chewed well, with a liquid. But I often do withot the liquid. Still and all, it is good advice.

    Reply
  4. Sahara

    I’ve been eating slowly and mindfully with the support of a group called ‘Relational Eating’. http://www.wolfanon.typepad.com/ I find that to make long lasting and enduring changes with the way I eat, it helps to have a support system. I belong to a phone network and we have partners we do ‘5-and-5s’, (www.speakingcircles.com ) with at least once per day. I would encourage anyone who wants to practice eating mindfully for the rest of their lives, to check out this Relational Eating Approach.

    Reply
  5. Robert

    I was glad to find you comment on eating slower. My wife and I have had this conversation. I’m the slow eater – she’s the one that’s over weight. She’s also the one that takes antacids. Posts like yours may help to convience her to reevaluate her situation- thanks.

    Reply
  6. Snoogle

    I’ve always been a fast eater.To me its like “Go ahead and get this over with”.I honestly found it boring to eat slow.But well,since it might help with weight loss I did try to eat slowly the other day.I chewed 15 times and put my fork down like Nice Girl said.Oddly..I felt kind of good about it.It made me feel like I accomplished something.Proud might be a good word.Of course,I threw this technique out the window for Thanksgiving but I will try and get back on track with it today.

    Reply
  7. Howie Jacobson

    I know a lot of folks who want to meditate, but can’t find the time to sit and “do nothing” for 10 or 20 minutes a day.

    Well, we all have to eat. Even turning a 2-minute gulp-fest into a 10-minute “eating meditation” will be a very satisfying and healthy multi-tasking.

    For folks who need a little guidance, here’s a 5-minute guided “eating meditation” available for download or listening online: http://fitfam.com/eating-meditation

    Reply
  8. Kath y

    Thanks for the idea about the chopsticks–I love to eat with them when I’m out but forgot about doing this at home!

    Reply
  9. Iggy Petulante

    If you go to an Asian grocery, you can buy a bundle of plastic chopsticks very cheaply, and they can be washed in the dishwasher.

    I don’t use them for everything – they are impractical for some things, but they definitely slow you down, and allow you to appreciate individual tastes, since you’re picking out individual morsels…And obviously as others mention, they do tend to slow you down a bit.

    They also make great mixing tools for beverages, coffee (if you use a press), and so on.

    I think a lot of people could benefit from finding an Asian grocery nearby and taking some time to just see what’s available. There are a lot of interesting things that can’t be found in a normal grocery store; just read the labels like always (I have found some some excellent dishes made with curry pastes and powders, for instance).

    One problem with eating slow is that food tends to get cold on the plate. It’s best to dish out just a little at a time if you’re going to really slow down; this may have other benefits in terms of reducing consumption of food.

    I did read a study – don’t have a link – which showed that overall, less calories were absorbed by the digestive tract in food which was *not* well-chewed (while it didn’t cover nutrients, I imagine the same effect occurs).

    While I can’t seriously imagine using this as some kind of weight loss strategy, I found it interesting nonetheless.

    Food just becomes disgusting to me when over-chewed. Saliva can begin to break down various things in the food and it begins to taste sweet.

    Reply
  10. Geoff

    I think this advice holds true both mentally and physically. Taking the time to enjoy your meal, especially if you are on a diet, can go a long way to satisfying both your body and brain.

    Reply
  11. Jan

    Amie, unless you are around 5′ or 150cm tall, 48 kg is much too skinny.

    Reply
  12. Amie

    gareth said:
    And about the plate of pasta pictured post, i think it’s the ugliest thing ever seen in my life 🙂 it’s so sticky and overcooked that looks like a brain 😉
    […]

    right, I have to see really close to make sure it is not maggot:)

    Reply
  13. eva8404

    Eating slowly really works for me and my family.
    But I also will talk about “balance” in food that also would helps.

    I am among the slowly eaters, i often spend 30mins for lunch and more for dinner. Let take this time not to chew only, let have some friends and enjoy your time.

    I come from Vietnam, we know well that eating is not only to fulfill your stomatch, a meal is a combination of food, chatting, and laughing. Food should be made in combination too, let say if you have BEEF, it will not be only beef, it could be Beef with pine apple, celery, and garlic. My Sweedish friend loves this so much! Or beef also could go so well with garlic, ginger, coriandrum sativum and pepper.

    Let me explain alittle bit, if we eat fast, eat to eat then we loose balance, there must be balance in everything to keep it fine.

    Like Yin and Yang, Day and Night, Summer and Winter, things we eat should be in harmony, in balance.
    We believe that Beef is “cold”, is Yin, so ve have it with Ginger which is “warm” and is Yang. So now you have Yin-Yang in your food, it helps.

    So to gain balance, we can think about the time, like to eat slowly, we also can think of mix food with both “yin and yang”, we can also think of sharing your food and time with friends. A good meal should have at least one of this, and a perfect meal should have 3.

    Reply
  14. LindaS

    I definitely eat way too fast. Comes from growing up in a houseful of hearty and eager eaters. But I have learned to slow down by using my opposite hand when I eat. This has really helped me.

    Reply
  15. gareth

    I totally agree on eating slow… and about using chopsticks… that’s smart! I need to get a pair of them again.
    And about the plate of pasta pictured post, i think it’s the ugliest thing ever seen in my life 🙂 it’s so sticky and overcooked that looks like a brain 😉

    Reply
  16. Nice Girl

    All good points AMIE, but most people are gluttons and want instant satisfaction.

    They want satisfaction – taste, fullness – from the food immediately, and thus, they eat quickly.

    And then they want to lose weight quickly.

    LOL. Never ending cycle with some people. I just hope I don’t head down that path.

    Reply
  17. Amie

    It totally works for me. I was 58kg this summer and started to eat as slow as possible on each meal:

    *I drink water (hot tea is better, it makes you feel full and warm immediately, and it is good for bowels),
    *definitely use napkins (after every bite I wipe a bit),
    *chew a lot(but don’t really count the bites)
    *put my focus on the taste,the toung– which means I try to “analysis” the taste of the food, even just a sandwich.
    *Eat slow, Eat Less, Eat Good.

    within few month I drop to 48 kg! I didn’t do any exercise at all, instead, I eat and cook more often.

    Think about this, why not save the chances to try more kinds of food a day?That is, if you can only consume 800 calories a day, why not distribute it to 5 kinds of food (with small amount) instead of one hamburger?

    Reply
  18. judy

    yes i believe eating slower is better for loseing weight or just plan healthyer.

    Reply
  19. judy

    do you have a menue plan i could follow with out sugar.1200 cal a day diet.

    Reply
  20. Kailash

    Ryan said:
    The older books written by bodybuilders will tell you to chew your food thoroughly. It’s not how much protein you eat, but how much you digest. None of the books coming out […]

    Maybe so, but have you ever seen chunks of meat in your stools?

    Chewing is more important for grains, vegetables and nuts, I believe. The fiberous stuff.

    Still a good thing.

    Reply
  21. rav

    Very interesting, I’ve never actually thought about how fast I eat affecting my diet but it’s good advice…

    Reply
  22. Jessie

    I have a huge problem with eating too fast. I grew up in a house with no leftovers. If you left your dinner on the table, or wrapped it up and put it in the fridge, it was fair game to be eaten by someone else.

    Thus, with a lot of my meals I feel the need to eat everything on my plate and more.

    Because of this, I tend to get stressed if my meal isn’t portion controlled (I measure it out, or it’s a frozen dinner, etc). I’ve realized that if it isn’t, I will overeat, especially when I have access to second helpings.

    Reply
  23. Ryan

    I believe, from personal experience, that it works too. I’m actually learning to chew things, especially meat, until they’re liquid. I do it for a different reason though. The older books written by bodybuilders will tell you to chew your food thoroughly. It’s not how much protein you eat, but how much you digest. None of the books coming out these days mention that at all, but I think it’s very important.

    Reply
  24. Spectra

    It’s true…eating slower really does make you feel more satisfied. I often use chopsticks when I eat because it forces me to go slower and really enjoy my food.

    I don’t think I could chew everything til it’s liquid though…I’m not that obsessive.

    Reply
  25. Passion for Health

    Great advice, it comes down to priorities…. putting health first and giving more TIME to our nutrition, preparing healthy meals and eating in a relaxed way.

    The slow eating idea has been around for a while. A guy called Fletcher I think it must have been advises us to ‘Fletcherize’ our food – chew it until it’s liquid basically.

    Reply
  26. Nice Girl

    Nice Girl said:
    * Check eat bite 15 times, or more[…]

    Oops! CHEW each bite 15 times, or more.

    Reply
  27. Nice Girl

    I totally agree.

    Sometimes I do the following:
    * Put my fork/spoon down between bites
    * Check eat bite 15 times, or more
    * Drink a glass of water after each bite

    When I do the above, I eat slower, don’t finish my food, and take at least 30 minutes to eat.

    But alas, most people are gluttons and simply shove the food in their mouths. I bet if they were to vomit they would find chunks of food and would be able to easily identify each food particle.

    People do not realize that CHEWING is the first step in digestion.

    Reply
  28. Roni

    I agree with that. I make an effort to eat slower and enjoy my food. When I do I’m always more satisfied. It just makes sense.

    Reply