By Coach Chris (CF-L2, PN 1)
Many of us eat our meals on the go — in the car, at our desk while we work, in front of the TV or computer, for example. We’re not giving a thought to how we’re eating, we’re just trying to get it done so we can get back to whatever else we were doing before our pesky body got hungry. This speed-eating phenomenon is holding us back from better health.
Slowing down your meals has immense health benefits including better digestion, more satisfaction after meals, and easier weight loss. Eating more slowly is one of the simplest, but most effective and powerful ways you can improve your health.
When we eat quickly and thoughtlessly, our brain and body experience a disconnect. It takes time for our brain to recognize that we’re full — it doesn’t happen instantly. If we shovel bite after bite without taking time in between, we’re far more likely to overeat. For most people it takes about 20 minutes for our brains to register that we’re no longer hungry. This means that slowing down our eating pace will help us better control our food intake, which is especially important for anyone trying to reduce body fat.
Studies have shown that eating more slowly causes us to eat smaller portions on average, and helps us feel satisfied for much longer after the meal ends. Yes, you read that right. We can eat less food, but feel more satisfied! It’s not too good to be true — it’s how our body works.
Still need more convincing?
Eating too quickly can also cause poor digestion. When we eat in a hurry, we almost always swallow our food in big bites that haven’t been properly chewed. Digestion begins in the mouth. Our saliva and other enzymes in the mouth, with the physical action of chewing, is the first step in the process. When we don’t chew properly, we end up with big chunks of half-chewed food hitting our poor stomach, which then has to work overtime to digest the food. This can lead to indigestion and other gastro-intestinal issues, plus we’re missing out on some of the valuable nutrients from our food.
Slowing down our meals and cutting out distractions during mealtime has a hugely positive effect on our overall health in the long term! Here are some tips to help you make it happen:
- Put down your utensils between bites. Simple but effective.
- Cut out the distractions. Turn off the TV, put away your phone, don’t work on your spreadsheets. Relax and focus on enjoying your food!
- Intentionally set aside time to eat. You can start small and build up on this. If you’re used to eating at your desk and working right through your meal, start by setting aside 10 minutes where all you do is eat your meal. Eventually add a bit more time until you get at least 20-30 minutes or more.
- Eat with friends or family. This is the exception to the “distraction” rule. Eating with others often leads to conversations, which will naturally slow your eating cadence and keep you more relaxed. If you’re eating with someone who is a slower eater than you, you can pace your eating to theirs.
There’s tons of other ways to slow down while eating. We challenge you to give this a try for one week and see how it feels. We can’t afford to treat eating as an inconvenience — it’s a necessity for your body to work at its maximum potential. Give it the time it deserves, and you’ll be greatly rewarded with better health in the long term!
Looking to take your nutrition to the next level, but you don’t know where to start? We can help! We have two spots available in our Ripple Effect Nutrition program right now. We’ll help you make sustainable, reasonable changes to your habits to help your reach your goals! Get in contact with us here and we’ll schedule a free nutrition consultation!