If there is one easy thing that you can do right now to help you lose weight, it’s to eat slower. Did you know that it takes around 20 minutes from the time you start eating, for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full? Think about it — you can eat a whole lot of food in 20 minutes! So it’s easy to see why eating quickly leads us to eat more food than we need or want.
Research has shown that the slower people eat, the more they enjoy their meal and the fewer kilojoules they consume. If you think about it, this does make sense. If you are too busy focussing on shovelling food into your mouth, you are not likely to have time to enjoy the taste, texture and colours of the food on your plate. Enjoying what you eat and savouring it is an important part of eating. When you do this, you are less likely to feel deprived and therefore less likely to look for other more ‘exciting’ foods. And if you take in less kilojoules at the same time — even better!
Do you eat too fast?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I always the first to finish a meal?
- Am I preoccupied (e.g. reading or watching TV) while I eat?
- Do I often eat in my car or at my desk?
- Do I forget what I have eaten after I have finished?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then you are probably eating too quickly.
Practice makes perfect
If you have a lifetime habit of eating too fast, it will take time to change this. But practice makes perfect, so keep at it and eventually slowing down will feel natural to you. In the meantime, try some of these tips:
- Take a break — in between each mouthful, put your knife and fork down and don’t pick them up again until your mouth is empty
- Make it special — take the time to set the table nicely and focus on each bite (how does it feel? How does it taste? etc.)
- Time yourself — time yourself to see how long it takes you to eat a meal and then aim to take twice as long next time
- Eat with chopsticks — while this may not be appropriate for some foods (i.e. soup or a sandwich), it will definitely slow you down as there is only so much food you can put on chopsticks!
- Aim to be last — instead of finishing your meal at a record pace, aim to be the last one finished.
Finally, you may want to try this little exercise the next time you tuck into a bar of chocolate. Break off a small piece and then sit down with it. Look at it, smell it, feel it. Then take one little bite. Make it last as long as possible. Take the time to notice how it feels on your tongue, how it tastes when you suck it. Do this until it is completely gone and then take another small bite. Chances are you will get your ‘chocolate fix’ with a lot less chocolate this way.
Remember, food isn’t something to be inhaled at record speed. While the purpose of food is to nourish our bodies, it can also nourish our souls and provide a sensory experience in itself. So the next time you sit down to eat, make sure all your senses are engaged.
Resource: Healthlogix – Australian Corporate Wellness online. www.australiancorporatewellness.com.au