When it comes to healthy eating, most people tend to throw in the towel too early. It happens, especially when you overlook small changes, such as reducing your eating pace. The message is clear in most healthy eating articles: eat your food slowly. However, people ignore this message and hide behind excuses such as “I’m busy” or “I’m famished”. Have you ever stopped to think of why you are advised to eat slowly? Do you know of any benefits of eating slowly? Join us in exploring them!
What are the benefits of eating slowly? Does it have any impact on weight loss, or is it just an excellent dietary practice? These are some of the questions that plague most people about mindful eating. We have compiled this piece using the latest evidence and commentary from health experts about the benefits of slow eating. Keep reading to discover how and why you need to eat more slowly.
The Concept Of Slow Eating
You might have heard this saying countless times: “Make small dietary changes if you want to lead a healthier life or lose weight”. In most cases, most of us think of changes such as eating more vegetables, drinking more water, or watching our food portions.
Hardly do most of us think that a small change like eating more slowly can be considered as a healthy dietary practice. Most of us do not even believe that this simple act of chewing food slowly can affect weight loss.
So, what exactly does eating food slowly mean? Believe it or not, there is nothing new to this concept. It means exactly what it portrays. It is the simple act of chewing your food slowly, regardless of the type of meal you are eating.
As a society, we tend to be quite distracted and rushed. Most of the things we do, we tend to do them fast. Talk about cooking, cleaning, or even taking a shower. Eating is no exception. We tend to eat too quickly, taking little to no time to savor our meals.
The thing is, though, this has a dire impact on our health. Not to shock you or anything, but eating too fast can lead to several health issues. It is why you find most nutrition experts always advocating for people to eat more slowly.
Trust me! You are not wasting your time by eating your food slowly. By slowing down when it comes to your food, you get to enjoy various health benefits. Here are some benefits you may reap by eating your food slowly:
Increases Food Enjoyment
Most of us may not enjoy our meals merely because we are just gobbling them up. Instead of savoring the food, the idea is to eat fast to spare us more time to continue with another activity.
In such a case, you will hardly enjoy your meal. Instead of focusing on what you need to do after you eat, focus on what you are eating. Taking time to chew your food allows you to take in the aroma, flavor, and taste of each spoonful (9).
Most of us fall into the trap of chewing food very fast, especially if the food is finger-licking. This should not be the case. Take the time to chew your food thoroughly and enjoy every bite. To help you eat more slowly and enjoy your meal, try putting your fork down between bites.
In these bites, appreciate the different flavors in your food. It will not only help you gain other health benefits but most importantly, help you enjoy the food.
Reduces Calorie Intake
In a day, you are required to consume a certain number of calories. This approximate number of calories is determined by your weight, age, physical activity, and whether or not you want to lose weight.
If you want to shed some pounds, the idea is to consume fewer calories than your required daily calorie limit (7). The fewer calories you consume, the more stored calories your body burns, thus promoting weight loss.
Most people think they have to take drastic steps to consume fewer calories, such as eating low-calorie foods. Hardly will you ever hear anyone linking reduced calorie intake to slow eating.
You do not have to go cold turkey to maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss. In the end, it all comes down to small changes that help you achieve a long-term healthy lifestyle that supports weight loss. One of these changes is eating your food slowly.
Mayo Clinic acknowledges that eating slowly can help you reduce your calorie intake. The reasoning behind this is that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register the chemicals that let you know you are satisfied (1).
So, when you slow down when eating, your brain gets to catch up to how full you are. If you eat more slowly, you will get full pretty quickly. This helps prevent overeating, which, as we may guess, only adds to your calorie intake.
There are relatively common reports of people suffering from slow digestion, or what is referred to as the lazy bowel. Although you may not think it is fatal, slow digestion is responsible for various health issues.
According to Medical News Today, it results in slow transit constipation or infrequent bowel movements. These cause abdominal pain, hard stools, or painful bowel movements (11). Can you believe you can avoid all these if you eat your food slowly?
Yes! WebMD acknowledges that a straightforward recipe for improving your digestion is eating your food more slowly (2). This practice helps you regulate the amounts of food you chew and how thoroughly you chew your food. Chewing your meals more thoroughly makes the job easier for your digestive system (2).
Besides this, you can also improve your digestion by adopting other healthy practices. These include eating more high-fiber foods, moving more, drinking water, soups, and broth, and reducing your stress levels (2).
Facilitates Better Food Choices
When you reduce your eating pace, you get a reality check on the food you are consuming. This is good as you get to analyze if the food is healthy or not. It gives you an opportunity of working on your food options, especially if you want to lose weight.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such reflection can help you commit to eating healthy, nutritious meals (10). It might have you thinking of following a healthful diet for healthy living or weight loss.
But what does a healthy diet entail? According to Medical News Today, a healthful diet must contain foods from various food groups. These entail fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, healthy fats, and dairy (8).
If you are thinking of starting a healthy diet for weight loss or healthy living, make sure you seek professional advice. It would help if you had a professional’s guidance in designing a suitable and healthy diet plan that meets your needs. Again, you need assistance in crafting a diet plan that restricts you to your daily calorie range if your goal is weight loss.
Eating too fast is associated with several health issues, one of which is speeding up heartburn. When you eat too fast, you increase the risk of acid reflux, further increasing your risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (4).
GERB occurs when the stomach acids flow into the esophagus. The main symptom of this health problem is heartburn. Heartburn is that burning sensation you acquire behind your breastbone (6).
However, you may still have GERD but no heartburn symptoms. In such a case, you must look out for other GERD symptoms, including (6):
- Respiratory problems
- Bad breath
- Pain or difficulties swallowing
- Nausea or vomiting
Get help immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. GERD is not the condition you want to leave untreated as it can worsen and cause any of the following (6):
- Barrett’s esophagus. In this condition, the cells lining the esophagus change into cells similar to those lining your intestine. With time, these can develop into cancer.
- Esophagitis. This condition refers to an inflammation of the esophagus.
- Esophageal stricture. This condition makes the esophagus narrower, leading to swallowing problems.
- Respiratory issues. It is quite possible to inhale some stomach acid into your lungs. When this happens, you increase your risk of respiratory problems such as asthma, chest congestion, pneumonia, hoarseness, and laryngitis.
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Reduces The Risk of Heart Disease
Eating slowly can also help prevent cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular or heart diseases are on the rise in America, with reports of 1 in every four deaths being linked to these conditions (12). Worth noting is that some types of fat increase your risk of heart disease than others.
According to Medical News Today, cardiovascular risk factors are more pronounced with increased belly fat (12). When you eat too quickly, you are more likely to overeat, which over time can lead to extra fat deposits around your waistline. As a result, you may increase your heart disease risk (5).
You can lose belly fat and reduce your heart disease risk by taking more time to eat and chew your food. Likewise, you can reduce this risk by preventing cardiovascular disease risk factors. These include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, and lack of physical activity (12).
Helps Regulate Your Appetite
If you have problems regulating your appetite, you are familiar with binge episodes where the urge is to get everything down in minutes. Contrary to what most people think, it is pretty hard to fight this powerful urge to eat as fast as possible.
The problem with such a binge episode is that it results in overeating. When you overeat, you acquire a calorie surplus, which is an enemy of weight loss. Medical News Today states that eating more slowly or practicing mindful eating can help you regulate your appetite naturally (13).
When you pay attention to what and how you are eating, you get to feel full pretty fast. This is because chewing your food slowly triggers your brain into believing that you are full more quickly.
There are also other ways you can implement to help regulate or suppress your appetite. These include eating more high-fiber foods, eating more healthy fats and proteins, reducing your stress levels, eating low-calorie foods, and hydrating before meals (13).
Gives You Time To Analyze
One of the nutrition benefits of eating slowly is that you get to analyze your meals’ nutritional content. Medicine Net states that a reduced eating pace helps you compare various foods’ nutrition facts (15).
For example, you get to analyze the saturated fat, fiber content, proteins, and vitamins in the meal you are having. By looking at each serving’s nutrients, you get insight into how this affects your daily calories and nutritional needs.
Such information is telling, and it helps you make wise and informed food decisions. You find yourself being also cautious of not how you are eating but also what you are consuming. It enables you to determine if the foods you are having have nutrients or are empty and will only lead to nutritional deficiencies.
How To Eat Slowly For Weight Loss?
Most of us could use a detailed tutorial on eating slowly for massive health gains and weight loss. Most of us struggle with a reduced eating pace, especially when we are either held up or famished. Here is some advice to help you eat more slowly moving forward:
Eat When Necessary
Most of us eat whenever we see food instead of when we are hungry. It is hard to eat slowly, especially if you are eating because you are stressed and not because you are hungry. Remember that such emotional eating only adds to your calorie intake and may jeopardize your weight loss goals.
Use Your Senses
It is vital to use your senses to appreciate the food in front of you. Do not just serve food and get right into it. Take time to appreciate how it looks, smells, and tastes. According to Medical News Today, this helps reduce your eating pace, allowing you to reap the discussed health and wellness benefits (15).
Take Small Bites
One easy way to help you get out of your snack rut and overeating behavior is talking small food bites. According to WebMD, this practice is beneficial to dieters as it helps increase satiety levels (3). Likewise, having small bites helps you maintain portion control. As you may guess, portion control is one crucial weight loss principle. Similarly, taking small bites helps prevent choking. If food completely blocks your airway and you do not get any help, it might lead to death.
You can also warm up to eating more slowly by taking time to chew your food thoroughly. The idea is to break down your food into smaller particles to make the digestion process more manageable. Again, chewing your food thoroughly helps prevent choking and overeating. Medical News Today also links chewing food more to the retainment of energy levels (14).
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Take Deep Breaths
Another mindful eating practice that can trigger a reduced eating pace is taking deep breaths before food consumption. You can try taking at least five deep breaths before you eat, as advised by Medical News Today (15).
Most of us get distracted during our meals. We are either enjoying some Netflix or scrolling through our social media. The reality is that these distractions interfere with your eating pattern. When you are distracted, you will most likely chew your food less, take multiple bites at once, and overeat. Again, you are less likely to appreciate food as your concentration is not in your meal. Try to keep that phone away or switch that tv whenever you are eating. It will help you pay more attention to how you are eating.
Avoid Extreme Hunger
Do not wait until you are ravenously hungry to now eat. Extreme hunger only makes you devour a meal, and in this period, eating slowly will be the last thing in mind. Listen to your body, and only eat when you are hungry, but don’t wait until you are starving. This way, you will implement healthy eating habits such as chewing food thoroughly, taking small bites, and eating slowly.
Have Bite Breaks
Whether you are in a rush or not, you need to put your spoon or fork down after taking a bite. It will not only help you chew your food more but also prevent you from eating quickly. Similarly, it gives you time to appreciate the taste of the food.
The Bottom Line
What are the benefits of eating slowly? This question appears to be straightforward, yet it bugs many people. While many people may not associate it with weight loss, this eating habit can help you lose extra pounds. It does so by reducing your overall calorie intake.
Similarly, eating slowly may help you reap several health gains. These include reduced heart disease risk, improved digestion, reduced heartburns, and better appetite regulation. A reduced eating pace can also help you enjoy your food and make better food choices.
There are different habits, which, if adopted, can help you eat more slowly. They include chewing your food more, taking small bites, eating when you feel hungry, and avoiding distractions. These small changes can reduce your eating pace and ultimately help you make more small changes that lead to a long-term healthy lifestyle.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 5 key habits of healthy eaters (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- 9 Tips for Smooth Digestion (2020, webmd.com)
- Diet Secret: Small Pieces of Food More Filling (2012, webmd.com)
- Eating Food Too Fast Speeds Heartburn (2003, webmd.com)
- Eating too fast may lead to weight gain, heart disease (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Everything you need to know about GERD (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How can I lose weight? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to follow a healthful diet (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Hunger games: Do you know why you eat? (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Improving Your Eating Habits (2020, cdc.gov)
- Lazy bowel: What to know (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Region of body fat affects heart disease risk (2016,medicalnewstoday.com)
- Ten natural ways to suppress appetite (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- The benefit of chewing your food more (2013, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What is appetite? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)