Slow Down to Slim Down
Can losing weight be as simple as slowing down your eating pace? Here's what the latest research says about the benefits (weight loss and beyond!) of taking the time to savor every bite.
The next time you find yourself dashing through a meal, stop and slow down—for your weight's sake. Researchers who analyzed the eating habits of more than 3,200 adults over the course of four years found that those who ate quickly—and ate until they were full—consumed more calories and were three times more likely to be overweight than those who ate slowly and stopped eating before they were full. The researchers made another discovery that should, literally, give you pause: Rapid eaters tend to gain more weight than slow eaters even when the amount of food consumed is the same.
Speed Eating and Fast Weight Gain
Most research indicates that fast eaters simply eat more. After all, it takes about 20 minutes for your satiety-related hormonal process to signal the brain that you've had enough to eat. So it stands to reason that if you eat slowly, you'll have consumed less food when those feelings of fullness kick in.
And, by the way, healthy weight is only one of the benefits slow eaters enjoy. A Preventive Medicine study found a correlation between faster eating and increased insulin resistance, putting even normal-weight individuals at a greater risk for diabetes and heart disease—not to mention high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heartburn, and acid reflux.
Simple Ways to Adopt the Slow-Down Diet
Of course, in our fast-paced, frenetic world, it can be hard to break the habit of inhaling a bowl of cereal as you're getting ready for work or wolfing down a turkey wrap between meetings. But these slow-down solutions are worth a try for weight loss and better health.
Relax before you eat. You might spend a minute contemplating where your food came from—lettuce grown in California, cheese from a dairy in Vermont—to help take your mind off the stresses of the day.
Build in slow-down signals. Put down your fork or spoon and take a sip of water between bites.
Use a watch or timer to pace yourself. Begin by timing a normal meal and then stretch it by two minutes every day. (Those who chalk up their speedy eating to a desire to "get it while it's hot" can purchase a heat-retentive plate that keeps food hot for 30-plus minutes, for about $20.)
Talk with your mouth full. Ask yourself every few minutes if you're still hungry—and listen to the answer!
Chew your food thoroughly. This not only helps slow you down—it has digestive advantages as well. Carbs begin to break down in the mouth with an enzyme produced by your saliva, and though proteins aren't digested until they reach the stomach, the very act of chewing alerts the stomach to prepare the correct enzymes. So the more slowly you eat, the better able your body is to process the food. Not only that: Dutch researchers have discovered an aroma released during chewing that contributes to the feeling of fullness, making thorough chewers that much more likely to register when they're satiated.
Health benefits aside, slowing down just plain makes eating more pleasurable. So take the time to fully taste what's on your plate.
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