Why You Should Eat Slowly–Or What Is Bad About Eating Fast

July 27, 2020 3 min read

man, slow eating, clock, timer, dinner 

The speed at which you eat can have a direct relationship not only on your overall health but clinical studies also relate fast eating to being overweight. That is right, numerous studies point to the fact that those that gulp down their food and don’t chew enough are far more likely to: consume more calories, derive less nutritional value from their food and gain weight more rapidly than slow-eaters.

The basic action behind this relationship is found in how our bodies tell us when to stop eating–through the release of substances that suppress the hormone Ghrelin (that is a hormone that increases hunger). When your body needs food, it creates hormones that make you hungry and your appetite increases. As you eat, your body starts to create different substances that tell you that you are full and to stop eating.

It is a simple stop-and-go mechanism our body uses to control how much that we eat.

Simple enough, but the process takes time (usually about 20-30 minutes). So, if you are a rapid eater then you will obviously consume a lot more food (and calories) before your body catches up to tell you to stop. But slower eaters get the message and put down their forks and spoons before overeating.

Get the idea of two teams filling up a wheelbarrow with dirt. They both have 20-minutes and the same sized shovel. One team takes its time, moving slow, and fills up the wheelbarrow just to the top. The other team shovels much faster and at the 20-minute mark the wheelbarrow is heaped high and overflowing.

And so, over time, it is easy to see how fast eaters pack in more calories and pack on more pounds.

And while optimal body weight is one key factor in creating good health, there are other health benefits to slower eating.

  • More nutritional value: As the saying goes, “Your mouth is the gateway to your body” and it is designed to process the food that enters your body. The digestive process starts here. Chewing thoroughly does not only break the food down into smaller particles, but chewing stimulates saliva. Saliva is full of enzymes that start breaking food down and digesting it. This leads to higher availability and assimilation of nutrients.
  • Better digestive functioning: Food that has been “prepared” and better processed is more easily digested in the stomach and intestines. Just like top-grade fuel powers your car better, so does food that has been refined and prepped for your stomach.
  • Improved oral health: Slower chewing helps to reduce stomach issues, like acid reflex, and less acid coming back to your mouth means less acid to destroy your teeth. And another really big plus to slower eating is that more chewing produces more saliva. Saliva is one of nature’s best tools for stronger teeth and powerful oral health.
  • Lowered stress: It has been estimated that 90% of all disease is stress-related. That is a big number and not a statistic to be taken lightly. Slowing down your eating pace brings relaxation, reducing stress levels. And this is not just about overall stress reduction. The fact is that stress directly affects how your digestive system absorbs nutrients. So, take it slow, eat calmly and you will support better nutrition and overall health.

Steps You Can Take to Eat More Slowly and Be Healthier

While there are a number of steps you could take, let’s keep it simple with just two steps to start. 

  1. Observe your “eating rate,” especially how many times you chew before swallowing. Now try counting out twice as many chews. To make this easier and more conscious, put your utensils down when you start chewing, then pickup when ready for your next bite. (If you just need a number, many people swear by the "chew 32 times" rule)
  2. Set a kitchen timer, or use your smart watch, to 20 minutes and pace your meal. You just might be surprised by how fast you are accustomed to eating and how long 20 minutes is. 

And while weight loss results can vary, there are so many other factors involved, one thing is for sure… you will certainly enjoy your meals more and feel more relaxed as a result. 

Bon appetit!

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