Slowing Down May Be a Good Thing

Gotcha! Did you think I was going to confess that I was slowing down on my exercise or with my commitment to living a healthy lifestyle? If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know that is not going to happen anytime soon.

No, I’m talking about slowing down the rate at which you eat your food. I have to confess that I am in the “Fast Eaters Club of America” and often finish my food way before anyone else does. Sometimes I blame it on being a mom and trying to finish my meal so I can help the kids if they need a drink refill or more of some food. But the truth is that I have always been a speedy eater.

Two Studies on Eating Speed

A study published last year found that people with a higher BMI tended to eat more rapidly than people with a lower BMI and another study found that men tended to eat faster than women. The study didn’t conclude that fast eating caused obesity, but just that overweight people tended to eat faster than those at a normal weight. I thought this study was worth talking about because slowing down your eating pace is an easy way to help you eat mindfully.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a touchy topic for me because for it to work, your body has to be sending you some good cues such as carrots are better for you than cake, and that eating just one piece of pizza really can satisfy you.Β  But I can see the benefit of eating slower both from a calorie standpoint and from a “training your mind” standpoint. I have written about mindful eating before, and some of you felt as though mindful eating came well into the weight loss process, while others have had success using a mindful eating strategy from the beginning.

When you eat slower, you definitely give yourself time to savor each bite, really think about what foods you are enjoying, and giving your body time to digest what you are eating. Not surprisingly, the study also found that people who ate whole grains ate slower than those people who were eating primarily white, refined grains. I can see why this is true because it takes my kids a lot longer to eat the whole wheat bread that I make as opposed to a roll or bun made from white flour.

Slow-Eating Techniques

Some techniques that might help you slow down if you are a speedy eater like me include:

1. Sit down while you eat. You may find that you eat a bit more slowly if you are not eating on the run.

2. Chew your food thoroughly. I am bad about this one, but when I do practice what I preach, I find it easier to slow down.

3. Put your fork down between mouthfuls. My mom used to tell me this one and I rolled my eyes at her, but it really does force you to slow down – unless your meal consists mainly of finger food!

4. Practice the art of good conversation. Unless you are a child who talks with her mouth full, carrying on a lively conversation with other dinner partners may help you slow down. Beware though – eating in groups can cause you to eat more than you intend because you are not paying attention to how much food you are eating.

5. Just eat. Instead of eating in front of the television, or while surfing the Internet, just focus on eating one bite at a time.

Where do you fall in the fast eater versus slow eater continuum? Ever try slowing down?Β  Diane

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29 thoughts on “Slowing Down May Be a Good Thing

  1. Miz says:

    welll Im back to slow.
    when the girl was little I found I either ate so so so very fast to get back to her to CARE for her or, later, I ate fast otherwise she would join in eating from my plate πŸ™‚

  2. Jill says:

    I am the slowest eater in my family- but that does not mean much! πŸ™‚ I try and slow down and enjoy my food. I also notice that when I eat slower I eat less. I think eating more slowly gives my brain time to figure out that I am satisfied. My problem is that I don’t always stop when I am satisfied- especially when the food is yummy! πŸ™‚

  3. blackhuff says:

    I have done this test before and practice this still – eating slowly makes one concentrate on when you are full and give the brain time to know when you are full. It does help a lot in losing weight but also in the maintaining stage.

  4. Sharon says:

    Several statements in this post struck a chord with me and are things I am already thinking about. Since I’m approaching the start of maintenance, I’m looking back at what I’ve learned and how to express it in words. That’ll all come come out in a post of my own at some point, but from this, I was reminded that oddly enough, I’ve found that my eating HAS slowed down significantly and I am finding that mindful eating is coming naturally. I have some theories as to the why of both these things, but for now, just know that your post this morning was reinforcement that I’m not losing my mind! These things really are happening and IMHO right now, the best I can say is that it’s a result of now more than six months of HEALTHY food intake without processed junk that do nothing but cause your body to scream for more.

  5. Emergefit says:

    For anyone who has served in the military, eating quickly can become a habit which is learned early and can stay with one for years to come. Boot camp meals in any service branch don’t last too long. I have discussed this with many military and former military friends and overall there seems to be a tendency of faster eating among us.

    I just got to experience #4 on your list in a new way. I was visiting my daughter in Greece for the first time and we ate out every evening. Dinner there is late and lasts FOREVER!!! I had to slow down the pace of my eating in order to keep the slower pace of the waiters and the cooks. Dinner was often 90-120 minutes. The conversation became center and the meal became secondary. This really changed my perspective and I enjoyed it a great deal. Since my return I really have been trying to slow it down some…

  6. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    Good tips!

    I have always been a fast eater and have to be very mindful to slow down. I try to make a conscious effort to eat slowly before I sit down for every meal. Eating slowly and being mindful is still sometimes a challenge when life gets stressful or when I am too hungry…

  7. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    Diane, I preach this but I got to admit that I am a faster eater than I like to be.. I like my hot food hot & my cold food cold! πŸ˜‰ BUT I have been working on this & I always try to be mindful! One good thing for me, even if I eat faster, I am so many years into this that I don’t go eat other stuff just to eat! πŸ™‚

  8. Jeremy Logsdon says:

    I definitely have to work on this! As a former high school teacher, I really got used to having to eat my lunch in about five minutes. It’s just a habit that I haven’t gotten rid of. When I purposefully slow down and eat mindfully, I enjoy my meal more, but there have been SO many times I’ve sat down to a meal and suddenly realized I was full and was barely cognizant of a single thing that went in my mouth.

  9. Caron says:

    I’m the fastest eater in the family and get comments about it too which do not stop me. I have tried slowing down on occasion but so far that habit has not taken hold. I see the benefits when I consciously try to slow down and I do get full in less time. Thanks for the reminder as this is something I do need to work on getting right.

  10. Mairi Brown says:

    I’ve always eaten slow for no particular reason, I guess I was just naturally slow. However, that doesn’t seem to stop me from overeating. What I have started doing is that if I feel like something sweet after dinner I make myself wait 30 minutes. If I still want it after 30 minutes, I have one or the serving size depending on what it is. This has worked so far and sometimes I actual discover that I’m full and no longer want a treat.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I thinking slowing down during a meal is a great idea. However, I’m not very successful at it. I grew up being a speed eater because my family owned a grocery store and we ate dinner together at the counter! So we would all gulp our food down before the next customer. We rarely sat down to eat a meal at home.

    I remeber the first meal I ate with my now husband, I looked over and his eyes were huge! He said “Wow, I have never seen anyone eat that fast!” I was so embarrassed because we had just started dating.

    I use the conversation tool to slow down. I have noticed that when I eat out with my friends and conversations are taking place, that I rarely eat all of my food. In fact, I tend to eat less when eating out during a social outing.

    I remember an old friend telling me many years ago when I was 200 plus pounds, “slow down and let the food do its job.” So true.

  12. jules- big girl bombshell says:

    My plan right now is about mindful movement. I use to be one of those you mentioned that felt mindfulness comes later in the process not at the beginning but that has changed for me. Mindfulness is only about the time when you are IN the ACT. It quiets the messages so you can HEAR what you need to continue to do. I have slowed my eating WAY down and slowed my pace to enjoy the journey rather than stop and starts. Oh and a trick I learned for myself….change hands that you use the fork with. It makes you more mindful because it is different.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I’ve been working on this for a long time and I still fail at times. Thankfully, my one and done rule picks up the slack so if I eat really fast, it’s all I get anyway. But, I know eating slower would help me feel more full, so I keep trying.

  14. Dr. J says:

    Everyone I know who really does eat slowly is slim!

    As with many of these rules, I am an exception. It’s useful to fuel up fast in my field πŸ™‚

    The thing is this, because I pay attention to portion control, fast or slow, when the portion is gone, I stop eating, whether or not I’m still hungry has no bearing. Besides hunger passes very quickly when we are off doing something else!

  15. E. Jane says:

    I used to be a very fast eater, so I purposely slowed myself down several years ago. Now I am the slowest eater in the family, so it really stuck! It does help with portion control, because I don’t want to be going back for seconds when everyone else has finished eating.

  16. Janis says:

    I’m an outlier on this — slim, but I eat FAST, mostly because I want to get it over with so I can get back to whatever it was I was doing before I had to stop and eat.

  17. Tammy says:

    I’ve always been a fast eater not always chewing my food completely. In fact, before I had my tonsils removed (when I was 26) not chewing completely would lead to choking. I still forget to do this but I have noticed that I am tending to slow down my eating now that I am consuming less food as I try to make the meal last longer. This post is a great reminder that I need to work on this and try to take my time to chew my food completely. Thanks Diane!

  18. Melinda Neely says:

    There has been so much press recently on the value of mindful eating. But I am guilty, too, of eating too fast and/or trying to juggle five things while sitting down to a meal. You have some great suggestions which will not only help us enjoy our meals better, but to eat better foods, too.

  19. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    I am definitely on the fast side, although my awareness of this issue helps me slow down. I find that when I am anxious or in certain situations, I speed back up…it’s a work in progress for me!

  20. Lori Lynn says:

    I’m probably a fast eater. Though it seems when I eat with people, I do eat slower, b/c I’m probably talking, or not as focused on my food.

  21. Siobhan says:

    I’ve always been a fast eater so I struggle to eat mindfully. Unlike a lot of people, though, I tend to eat less in groups, especially when there is great conversation.

  22. Taryl says:

    I have been a shoveler since I worked at Souplantation as a teen and ate my entire days’ food in the half hour lunch break I had for work (I’d chug diet pepsis all night, but that meal was pretty much it). I have worked hard at eating more slowly and mindfully, but if I don’t think about it I default back to quick eating and not really chewing or tasting my food. It’s tough to retrain!

  23. Deniz says:

    I have slowed down my eating (a lot – and it takes a fair effort to retrain) but still struggle with the whole feeling full thing. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, so it isn’t a fail safe for me.

    I do find that eating while sitting properly at the dining table helps me keep things slow and moderate my intake – nothing worse for me than tray munching or, worse still, nibbling on the go. Very hard to keep track if I’m distracted with other stuff!

  24. me says:

    This is exactly where I am in APY60’s challenges: Put yer fork down between bites. Perfect timing to really drive it home, Diane! πŸ™‚

  25. I ❀ 2 Eat says:

    Those are great recommendations, Diane! I am one of the fastest eaters in my family, and among many friends…it’s part of why I always eat more than everyone else. All my slim friends/family eat slowly, and eat far less than I do. I read a book by Paul McKenna a while ago, and tried to slow down my eating after that, and it really worked. But by nature I am a fast eater. It’s when I actually think about food can I slow down, and it definitely helps.

  26. Lisa says:

    I’m a FAST eater. I hate it. I barely taste my food. I now make a conscious choice to eat slower–put my fork down between each bite, chew and ENJOY MY FOOD.

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