Taking your time leads to better digestion—and potentially weight loss.
Ever look down at your empty plate and realize only four minutes have passed since you sat down with those tacos? Even worse, it happened so fast that you barely remember eating them.
You’re not alone: Eating too fast is a habit many Americans have adopted as the culture has increasingly emphasized speed, efficiency, and convenience. While scarfing down your burrito at lunch can help you get back to work as soon as possible, there are a number of reasons to slowwww it down.
A number of studies have found that when people eat slowly, they are more likely to find more pleasure from their food and be more satisfied at the end of their meal. They tend to have an easier time digesting their meals, since too much food too fast can be tough on the system. Plus, it might even aid in weight loss: It takes time for the brain to recognize that you’re full, so eating more slowly prevents you from overeating. Learn more about the benefits of eating slowly here.
Of course, eating more slowly is easier said than done, especially if speed-eating is a habit you’ve been practicing for decades. These silly tricks might help you break your habit and slow down:
Eat with your non-dominant hand. Your dominant hand (such as your right hand if you’re right-handed) is more efficient, but if you’re trying to slow down, embrace the clumsiness of your non-dominant hand.
Use chopsticks. Chopsticks tend to require more precision than forks and spoons, especially if you struggle with ‘em. Chopsticks may also help you take smaller bites.
Chew every bite 20, 30, or 40 times. The number itself is arbitrary, but giving each bite that much attention might help you realize how much you were under-chewing your food before. Adequately chewing your food helps ease digestion before it even hits your stomach.
Phone a friend. Getting immersed in a good conversation is one way to slow down your dinner, but if you’re dining solo, the phone can bridge the gap.
Journal or color while you eat. Here’s another way to distract yourself between bites if you’re dining solo. Try putting down the fork and picking up the pencil by journaling or coloring in an adult coloring book.
You already speed through most of your day: Try to enjoy your meals in the slow lane.
7 tips for healthy dining out. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2019. (Accessed on October 1, 2019 at https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/eating-out/7-tips-for-healthy-dining-out.)
Why eating slowly may help you feel full faster. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Health Publishing, 2010. (Accessed on October 1, 2019 at https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605.)