One tip that most of us could use to boost our health efforts is to eat slowly. If you were ever told off as a child for gobbling your food, or not for chewing properly, then you were being given good advice – there’s a lot of benefits from taking your time over a meal…
Digestion starts when we place food into our mouth: chewing more thoroughly, and eating slowly gives the body plenty of time to break down the food we eat. This means that slowing down your eating can help prevent you from feeling bloated, or from suffering from indigestion, after a meal.
Eating fewer calories
If you eat slowly, you’re also likely to eat less than when you scoff down a meal as quickly as possible. Your stomach takes about twenty minutes to register that it’s full – so if you don’t take at least twenty minutes over your dinner, you’ll probably keep on eating long after you’ve had enough. (See Eat Slowly – It Really Does Work for details of a study on this.)
Enjoying your food more
Let’s face it – if you’re a bit of a foodie at heart, one of the worst things about dieting is simply that you don’t get to eat so much! But you can prolong the pleasure you get from a great meal by taking your time over it. Give yourself time to really savour that delicious dessert, if it’s a once-a-week treat. Taste and enjoy every mouthful of your dinner: when you’ve spent half an hour cooking, it’s a shame to gobble down the results in minutes.
It’s easy to list all the benefits of eating slowly, but harder to actually do it. All too often I fall into the bad habit of eating in front of my computer, or eating mindlessly without really registering what’s going into my mouth. Some great ways to slow down your eating are:
Use a knife and fork
If you tend to shovel things into your mouth as fast as possible, start using a knife and fork. Sit at the table, not on the sofa, and put your cutlery down in between mouthfuls. (If you’re eating something like a sandwich, put it down each time you’ve taken a bite.) Another good tip is to take a sip of water regularly during your meal – which will force you to put your fork down.
Chat to others as you eat
Try not to eat a meal alone. Food is best enjoyed as part of a social event – even if that’s something as simple as having lunch with a colleague, or dinner with your spouse. Don’t eat in front of the TV in the evenings: sit with your family and encourage everyone to chat about their day. You can’t talk and eat at the same time.
Don’t read or work while eating
If you try to work whilst eating lunch, you’ll hardly notice the food going in. It’s hard to concentrate on the flavors and textures of food while your mind’s on that important document for the boss. Don’t eat breakfast whilst reading your favorite blogs (I’m often guilty of this!) – take the time to enjoy ten minutes of computer-free peace while you munch away on your cereal. Your body will thank you for it, and your mind will too.
Do you eat too fast? Do you have any tips on slowing down? Have you become more aware of the speed at which you eat whilst you’ve been dieting?