Confession: I Am a Fast Eater

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It seems as though I am always in a hurry. I’m not too sure if this is because I have so much to do or if this is just part of my type A personality. From the moment I get up in the morning, to the minute my head hits the pillow, I am either doing something or thinking of things I need to do. I have a to-do list a mile long. My goal is to check off as many of those tasks at the end of each day. For any uncompleted tasks they are either added to the following day's list or I abandon them completely. I’m not too sure why I feel so compelled to be in such a hurry about almost everything, but meal time is the one area I am consistently coming up short when it comes to slowing down.

One of the last unhealthy habits I am really hoping to break is rushing through meal time. A habit that I can trace back to the days of my youth when I would spend 15 minutes in the lunch line at school, leaving little time to eat AND talk with my friends. Studies have shown that the faster we eat, the more calories we consume and the fatter it makes us. Last month when I led SparkPeople's Official Healthy Habits Challenge, I wanted to finally break this habit of eating too quickly. So I started doing research on the steps to take to break this habit and in my research I discovered this is quite a common problem for many of us. Because we live in such a fast pace world where fast food restaurants can be found in almost any American city, this fast pace eating can be linked to the obesity epidemic.

It takes approximately 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to the brain that it is full. Because of this fact, many times I would be done with my meal before my brain ever got the signal, therefore I would find myself fending off the after-lunch or after-dinner munchies even after eating a full meal.

Below are a few tips they may help you slow down your eating. Meal times should be enjoyed and not rushed. And while I would like to say I have mastered many of the tips, some I have, and others I am still working on.
  • Drink a glass a water before eating your meal
  • Put your fork down in between bites
  • Pre-cut your food into very small, bite sized pieces
  • Take a sip of water in between bites
  • Enjoy and savor every bite
  • Avoid overloading your spoon and/or fork
  • Turn off the T.V. and put on slow music
  • Thoroughly chew each bite before taking the next bite
  • Avoid distractions--in other words try to avoid eating in front of the computer, television or reading a book at meal time.
  • Do not feel the need to feel stuffed. Remember it takes time for the stomach to signal to the brain that it is full.
  • Begin your meal with a salad. Eating raw veggies takes longer to chew which allows time to past before eating your entrée.
Changing unhealthy habits, that for many us that have been a part of our lives longer than we care to share, takes time. When we put thought behind the behavior we desire to change, it’s only a matter of time before we no longer have to think we just do, therefore we have developed a habit. Allowing ourselves the time to transform, even if it takes weeks and months, is just another leg of an ever-changing journey called life.

Do you find yourself rushing through a meal? If not, do you have any other ideas to help me slow down?

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My husband is a slooooow eater which makes me look like a faster eater than I really am. I'm the smallest person in my house now that my two sons have outgrown me so I eat the smallest portion as well. Sometimes it's just perception. Report
I have always been a slow eater. At Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law is usually almost finished with the dishes by the time I'm done eating! Report
I am always the last to finish a meal...could be I talk too much!! :) Report
Thank you so much for posting this blog. I eat way too fast. I'm always the first one done eating at the table and I actually get embarrassed about it. I really really need to work on this bad habit of mine. Report
My plate seems to be empty before even have thought about what is on it. thanks for the blog and good ideas on how to slow down will be concentrating on them in the weeks ahead. Report
I too am a fast eater. Why, work. Hospital worker, had to eat a lunch, phone home to check on family, in 1/2 hour I had to eat lunch, hit the bathroom, call the family, check my work schedule and get back to work. No time to think or eat slowly. Report
This is a real challenge for me..................but I need to try. I do everything in "fast-motion"! Report
I believe that I began eating fast when I hit college - stress, 'fitting in' a meal or junk - and got worse when I had children. Their food needs were more important and time-sensitive than mine! Trying to slow down now, so I will use these tips to help achieve that outcome. Report
I am a first grade teacher, and I have to make sure everyone has a lunch, put their codes into the machine, check to see that we all have a seat. Make sure that we are not fighting. Check email. Then cook my meal. And I have 11 minutes left. There's my excuse. But there have been many times that I my lunch time has ended and my lunch is still not finished. This just spills out into my non-professional life as well. Report
I just think one one thing and than i am convinced of not over eating. The length of tongue is mere 2 and 1/2 inches, which relish taste, below throat there we can not relish taste. So why to harm full body (5 feet and more) just to please 2 and half inches tongue. Report
Good Reminders! Report
I am just the opposite. I eat so slow that people dining with me end up feeling frustrated :) Report
Thanks for the tips to help slow down. Report
I am definitely a fast eater, but I have no idea where it came from. When I'm with my mom she is always telling me to slow down, so I know it didn't come from her telling me to hurry up! Report
I am one of those picker eaters...slow, slow, slow! lol Report
I ALWAYS eat too fast! The only times I eat the slowest is if I'm eating out with a person I haven't seen in a long time and we're talking the entire meal. My boyfriend constantly stops me from eating too fast unless he knows I'm truly starving. I'm needing to try and implement some of these things into my eating habits too! Thanks for the tips! Report
In my house, with a single mom and three older brothers, where food was concerned, it was "You snooze, you lose!" and if I didn't eat fast, I very often would go hungry! My brother remembers this, as well, being just older than me, and felt the same way I did. Now, it's all I can do to force myself to slow down, look around, think of conversation, and make dinner a relaxing event. It's slow to come, but I'm getting better! Report
Gosh, sometimes i wish i was a fast I'm terrible when eating, i'm so slow that if i have anything hot half way through my meal it's cold, my hubby is a very fast eater, he can't believe how long it takes me to finish a meal.

Though there are some good tips in this blog which i shall use alongside my slow eating. Report
WOW! This blog hit me right between the eyes. I have always been a fast eater and the suggestions have never helped. I learned to be a fast eater as a child because withdrawal of food was my mother's favorite form of punishment. If I said or did the wrong thing, if I had the wrong expression on my fact at the table, the meal would be withdrawn. If I had a hole in my sock or had committed some other bad act, bed without dinner was the usual punishment. If I moved too slowly in the morning, either no breakfast or lunch.

I have slowed down over the years, but I am still faster than anyone else I know. Report
Cooking has caused me to slow my need for speed. In fact, I have found a direct correlation between a meal's preparation time and consumption. In other words, fast food equates to fast eating, but just as in anything else in life, most good things are worth the wait. Think about it, when you smell a cake baking, you cannot wait to eat it, but once you have that slice on your plate, you begin to enjoy it. You notice the texture, the moistness, the flavor, almost as if each that intoxicating aroma was the final movement of the symphony of culinary delights on your tongue. You take your time. When you walk into a fast food joint, it's usually because you are in a hurry, or too tired to cook, or may even need a little something to keep you going; in other words, you need fuel. Therefore, you are not going to take the time to enjoy the food, but rather inhale it. All that to say, cook more, eat out less. Report
This is one habit I am trying to cultivate as I became a fast eater when I worked as a waitress while going to college and had to grab a bite in a rush and it stuck. If I remember to count while chewing then I will slow down, but if I eat mindlessly, then I almost swallow things whole sooo I just keep saying count, count, count and it is helping! Report
I find that 90 percent of the time I am a fast eater. I've often tried the trick of drinking water before, during and after my meal as well as putting down the fork after each bite. For some reason this only seems to work when I go out to a restaurant. I can be with the same people at home but I still tend to eat quickly so I can't even say it has anything to do with who I'm dining with. Like most people I can't afford to eat out all the time so I'm going to keep trying until I hit the magic "off" switch. Report
I'm a fast eater too. When I'm at lunch at work, for example, my supervisor cut down our 1 hour lunch to 30 minutes so I feel like I have to scarf down my food in order to get back to work! That's dysfunctional. Report
I'm a fast eater too. When I'm at lunch at work, for example, my supervisor cut down our 1 hour lunch to 30 minutes so I feel like I have to scarf down my food in order to get back to work! That's dysfunctional. Report
To help you slow down talk inbetween bites. I hold a conversation and so eat slower because I'm busy talking at the table. How many times did your family eat and talk around the table? It's also good for the family. It gives the food time to get to your belly. Report
I am a terribly slow eater, for the most part. And it's true that the slower you eat the less you'll eat at once: i end up feeling my fullness halfway through a large sandwich, and then i save the rest for later. Often I end up feeling a bit hungry again by the time the doggy bag makes it home, but i think it's more of a mentality thing- gotta eat my delicious leftovers before someone else steals them! That's what you get from growing up with hungry brothers.

I am a police dispatcher. We do not get lunch breaks and eat at our consoles. We eat between 911 calls, radio traffic and the routine stuff that goes with the job. Multi-tasking includes eating. All of us mindlessly shove food in our mouths while we are doing other things. This habit follows me to my off time. Report
Great tips, I have been a fast eater all my life and have tried to slow down. I eat like a starved dog. Last week I broke a tooth and am getting an implant. I can't believe how slowly I have to chew now as not to hit the hot spot. I am enjoying the the eating pace and will use the article tips to maintain it. Thanks for the help. Report
I do all of those tips!! HOORAY!! -- Many times, though, I have to stop and remind myself to do it. Good to know that I'm on the right track. I love this article! :)
Jocelyn Report
I tend to take my time eating only when I am out with friends, which is not often. If I am at home or at work, it is a different story. I measure my meals at home and if I get the urge to snack, I drink water. I guess that works for me, but I will try to slow down. Report
I have to admit to being guilty of this as well but being a school teaching doesn't always give me much time to eat at lunch either after assisting all the students with their lunches! Report
I will definitely have to keep these suggestions in mind! I know that I sure seem to "wolf" my food down! :(
Thanks for this article!! :) Report
OK, I agree with most of what you're saying, but I just don't get why pre-cutting your food would make you eat slower. On the contrary, cutting while eating forces you to pause between every bite! Unless you cut while still chewing the last bite, of course. But then the advice should be "wait to cut next bite until you're finished with the previous one". Report
I read somewhere that eating with chopsticks makes you eat slower. But I'm so proficient with them, the technique really doesn't work for me. Report
The tips are awesome. Thanks. I am a fast eater and I cannot seem to stop. Some days at work I get maybe a 10 minute lunch and other days I try to work out at lunch so it leaves me with 10-15 minutes. I am really struggling with this but I do measure out my lunch so I know what I am eating is what I need so I will not over eat. Report
Well, I am a slow eater but don't know if I'd recommend part of what makes me eat slow. I tend to get distracted while I'm eating. I know I probably shouldn't but I often eat in front of tv and/or computer. So, it takes me longer to eat. In restaurants, I don't really know. I just chew slower, look around, have a lot of novel ideas going around in my head and eat slow. Report
For me, it started brother would swipe food off my plate when I wasn't looking, so I started eating faster (we didn't get second helpings back in those days)...I still amaze myself at how fast I eat some days. I work from home on a set schedule and need to start eating breakfast away from the computer as it is gone before I realize that I've taken my first bite. Lunch is different only if I'm eating a big salad which I seem to eat very slowly (sometimes an hour to finish it). Report
This article reminds me of my husband a former Marine. His motto in the Corp. and what he heard in basic was "Eat it now, taste it later". I have to remind him he's not in the Corp. anymore but he still shovels it in. I guess the saying is true...Once a Marine always a Marine. :) Report
Excellent article. I too was and still am, to some point, a FAST EATER. I wonder why also. We always had plenty of food when I was growing up? Bad habits, I guess. I do try to slow down. I still finish way ahead of most of my friends, but I'm a work in progress. Report
School is where most of learned to eat fast. It was wait in line for 20 minutes, gulp down your food for 5 minutes, and have 5 minutes to get to class. I am much better now, but find i eat less and slower if I am reading or on the computer especially sparkpeople. I am eating right now! Report
Another maniacal muncher here...definitely gotta work on this one! I'm measuring out a portion of nuts every night and am eating them ver-r-ry slowly...when I CAN! Great article, Nancy! Report
I have always been the slowest eater at whatever table I am at. I have always been the very last one done! I just really, REALLY like food and have always wanted to prolong the experience of eating. My husband is the exact opposite of me and eats way too quickly, I try and remind him to slow down and I know he's working on it.

I find that watching TV and/or reading a magazine while I eat actually HELPS. For others this may distract them too much, but to me that is the point. To distract and entertain myself so I don't shovel the food in quickly in order to then get to do something more fun.

I dish out exactly what I'm going to eat and then I mindfully take a bite and then read a little bit or watch the show as I'm chewing so that I am entertained enough to want to be slow about it. I set my food or utensil down and truly savor everything there is about my yummy food! Report
I am nearly always the first one done eating except at family gatherings where every one is a speed eater - wonder if that is where I got it from. I especially have a hard time slowing down when I have cooked a meal and have had that last few minute rush to get everything on the table while it is still hot. I've found that it helps if I take a few slow breathes before I begin putting food on my plate. This gives me time to begin relaxing.Then I remind myself to put the fork down between bites. Food actually even better when I take time to taste it. Report
I am also one of those people that eat too fast. For me it started in grade school when we only had 15 minutes to eat lunch. On top of that we would eat dinner quickly in order to make it to evening sports practices or activities.

Thanks for the tips. Report
Fast eating is something I learned at home. I have 3 brothers and my Dad. Mom and I had to eat fast otherwise we didn't get much. Mom told me once that when she and Dad were dating and went out for pizza it was a race to keep up with him.

I was watching the Ruby Show on the Style Network. They did an exercise called "Gentle Eating" - where you eat slowly, no talking, no drinking during the meal, smelling the food, taking a bite, putting down the fork, chewing each bite 20 times and focusing on the food. I think this is an interesting approach and I plan on trying it when my counselor (yes I began counseling for my food addiction) feelins I am ready.

I have noticed that when I am eating a meal, if something happens that slows me down I lose interest in the food and no longer want to eat. But...since I am an addict I will eat it anyway. Report
Eating too fast is definitely something I struggle with. I got in the habit with school and having only 10 minutes or so to eat. I'm frequently done before my family & friends. Both my mom and I struggle with this and are working to slow down! Report
I take my time eating but my DH eats so fast that sometimes he is finished before I get my plate filled. He says that it comes from being in the military. I am embarrassed that I am always the last one done with a meal! They are all looking at me waiting for me to finish so they can continue with dessert. I wish that I could speed up some more but I just can't chew that fast! Report
I'm a fast eater, too. I have 3 older brothers, and hated being the last one left at the table. This is a habit I need to break as much as cleaning my plate. Report
I learned to eat fast in school and then at work. School may have been because I wanted to get to recess. Work was because we only got a 20 minute "paid lunch". I've been retired for 10 years and am still trying to break this habit. Thanks for the tips. Report
The faster you eat the faster the food is digestive. The faster the food is digestive the faster you blood sugar goes up. The faster your blood sugar goes up the faster you are hungry. The faster you are hungry the fast you will eat again. The faster you eat again the faster you will gain weight. Report
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