Try to think back to yesterday and see if you can recall everything you ate and drank. Every little taste, bite, snack, or sip that crossed your lips. Chances are you’d probably forget an item or two, and most likely underestimate what you consumed. That’s pretty normal in today’s society where we’re constantly eating on the go or dining with distractions. Seldom do we sit down at a table and spend 20-30 minutes solely focused on enjoying our meals without the T.V., computer, tablet, phone, or road diverting our attention.
Mindful slow eating, or being aware and present while dining can have a huge impact on your waistline without necessarily changing what you eat. It takes about 20 minutes from when you first begin eating for your brain to become aware that your stomach is full. When is the last time a meal took you 20 minutes to eat and didn’t leave you adjusting your belt? The point is that when we eat quickly and we aren’t paying attention, we eat more calories than we need to in order to feel full. The University of Rhode Island has done several studies to back up this theory and found links between BMI and rate of eating and gender differences too. The first study they did in 2007 shows when asked to eat quickly until the point of fullness, their subjects ate on average 67 more calories per meal then when they were asked to eat slowly and the subjects felt hungrier after the fast paced meal. At three meals a day for one week that’s 1,407 extra calories. One year would mean 73,164 extra calories which makes up about 21 pounds. Pretty astounding, right? The great news is this information can be used to our advantage in the battle of the bulge.
Personally, I made it a point several months back to slow down my eating and stop once I felt no longer hungry. Suddenly half of the typical lunch I made for myself just sat there on my plate because I slowly ate to the point of satiety. I didn’t feel bloated or hungry, I just felt great! It was empowering to know a simple change could make me so much more aware of how I felt and responded to what I ate. I also noticed that certain foods I thought tasted good before no longer held their appeal when I was actually paying attention.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you become more aware and slow down while you eat.
- Put the food or fork down after every bite
- Chew each bite 15-20 times
- Use chopsticks for bonus points
- Turn off the t.v., computer, and phone
- Sit down at a table to dine
- Avoid eating in your car
- Allow yourself 20-30 minutes to eat each meal
- Notice how your food looks, smells, and tastes
- Ask yourself how the food you’re eating will nourish your body
- Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel after you eat them
Give this a try for one week and let me know what you think! I know it’s made a big impact on the way I eat, and I hope you find it meaningful as well!
In good health,
Ryan Healy, BS, NSCA-CSCS