Slow Down to Slim Down!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I know I'm guilty of it: I'm short on time, my 2-year old is pulling at my leg to go outside and play, so I'll scarf down my lunch as fast as I can chew instead of taking the time to sit down and eat at a reasonable pace. But did you know that how you eat your food could be just as important as how much you're eating?

A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who eat quickly until full are three times more likely to be overweight. Researchers asked 3,000 Japanese volunteers aged 30 to 69 about their eating. About half of the men and a little more than half of the women said they ate until full. About 45 percent of the men and 36 percent of the women said they ate quickly. Those who said they ate until full and ate quickly were three times more likely to be overweight than people in the "not eating until full and not eating quickly" group.

According to the study, until recently, most adults didn't have the opportunity to consume enough energy to enable the body to store fat. But eating behaviors have changed due to increased availability of inexpensive food in larger portions, fast food, fewer families eating together, and eating while distracted (such as watching TV).

Do you notice that it's easier to overeat if you eat too quickly? I find that when I eat too fast, after I'm done I realize I might not have needed so much. I also find that I feel more comfortable afterward if I slow down, but sometimes that's hard when you get caught in the rush of the day.

Do you try to make mealtime as distraction-free as possible, both for you and your family? What kinds of things have helped you do that?

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Eating too fast has always been a problem for me. I'm really trying to slow down and I have found that when I do slow down, I do eat less and still get that comfortable full feeling. Report
This is a definitely a problem for me, if I eat when I am hungry, or when I am having a dish I love, I eat faster. It is not because I am in a hurry, rather it is that I enjoy the taste of what I am eating, so I "shovel" it in! My goal is to remember every time I eat, to slow down. Slow down and enjoy each bite, not quanity but quality. Eat less, one bite at a time! Drinking water before a meal helps me curb the hunger and always drink water with a meal or snack. Report
Hi Blogger, I agree with you on eating slower. Since I started getting serious with my weight loss I had to slow myself down by reading at the table, while I chew. This allows me to chew 17 times or more before I pick up the folk again. One tip for you when it is play time for your child, pack your lunch and eat it in the park while you watch them. Well my lunch is mostly a fresh salad, protien and a cup of tea. I hope that helps. Report
I have tried to move my family to the table for meals. Before we had kids we would sit in front of the TV. I feel disconnected with my kids when we do that. Plus we don't pay attention and eat too much. I have been trying to put my fork down after each bite and drink a glass of water before the meal starts. Report
It takes several minutes for the body to feel satisfied, and for the hunger 'pains' to go away. This is another reason to slow down. And it takes a changed lifestyle to reduce the constant 'need' for food. Great reminder in this article! Report
I've always eaten super fast but now that I am eating smaller portions I find that I'm slowing down because I want to make it last. Report
This is why my husband and I never eat at buffets anymore. We always made ourselves sick shoveling in all that food as we can as fast as we can. Didn't realize how full we were untill it was too late. Report
At hospitals, the staff is usually given 30 minutes for lunch. After 35 years of eating like this, I tend to eat fast. It is a hard habit to break. Report
I'm not surprised by the results of this study-I always feel better when I take my time. Report
Yes, I have noticed this and I really make an effort to eat slowly. The only trouble is that due to years of gorging on everything as fast as I could, it is a little difficult. The food tastes amazing when you slow down a little though. If you really take a minute to notice the texture, the aroma, the taste... it is a wonderful experience :)
I consciously make an effort to chew a specific number of times (eg. 20) It is a little irritating and mechanical in the beginning but it works for me! Report
Breakfast and lunch are the two meals that I can eat freely without interuption. Dinner, however, is completely different. I don't get a set dinner-hour, so often I'm eating on the run or between clients. That means that, yes, I'm probably eating too quickly and it could stay a huge problem unless I hire someone to come in for a half hour everyday so that I can have dinner. Report
worst part about this at my place. my boyfriend... he wants it and wants it now, instead of waiting 10 minutes for dinner to be finished and served, he will raid the fridge, eat everything in site, and then eat dinner, and his body hasn't had the time to comprehend the fact that he is full...
tends to overeat, and get a tummyache... but he is a natural bodybuilder and already eats alot... geeze..!!! Report
I have always eaten fast but i dont eat till im full. I havent got any extra weight thanks to that. Report
i had actually heard about this and it makes sence. its also about you eating too fast when u least expect ur done with your food and you think your not full but in fact your food hasnt had time to settle in to your stomach. Report
if i am not watching what i am eatting, i can eat so fast. i dont remember eating. since becoming a diabetic. what my portions, and what makes my sugar jump. i reallize now it doesn't bother me the smaller portion. like if i have a serving of sweet potatos. i eat slower and really taste food.. when before i could eat something so fast i wanted more.. for me i live alone i eat in front of the computer/tv but i am slowing down.. Report
We usually don't sit down at the table as a family to eat dinner, as pitiful as it sounds, we just balance our plates on our lap in front of the tv and then head off in separate directions to practices and workouts and such. But I have found that if I make up all the plates and place them on the table, that is where my kids will eat. My husband, on the other hand, will pick his plate up off the table and carry into the livingroom. Frustrating. I think I will try to do this more often. Although we will be eating much later, it should be easier to sit down to dinner at a table when the kids get back to school and into a regular routine. That's two weeks away, may as well start today. Report
Love this article.... Thanks a zil Report
I am a nurse, LPN, and I also have a bad habit of eating too fast. I am going to practice eating slower. Thanks for the great article.

Sunny Report
Shortly after joining SparkPeople I realized I was guilty of eating too quickly and then going back for seconds because I still felt hungry. More often then not I ate too much and then felt uncomfortable. I knew I had to consciously force myself to slow down. I have started putting my utensil or food down between bites. This has really helped. I am not shoveling food into my mouth as fast as I can. I feel full sooner and have no need to get seconds. I must be doing something right since I have lost 11 pounds in 4 weeks. Report
I eat quickly also but within my nutrional needs..but I leave the table immediately afterwards and go back to work or taking care of my baby so I won't be tempted to eat more LOL Report
I have made the conscious effort to slow down when I eat and actually A. enjoy what I am eating and B. I feel full much faster and on much less food!!! And I know it can be hard to slow down but this is one time when I think it is worth the extra 10-15 minutes to "enjoy" the little things! Report
I do everything fast and eating is no exception. My fiancee is so good about eating slowly and he's embarrassed me into slowing down--without even saying a word. I really have to work at it. BTW: I'm trying to slow down in general. I go 100 MPG from 6AM to Midnight, 7 days a week and I'm always exhausted. I have a really hard time taking it easy. Report
I know I eat fast even at the table. The only time I might eat slow is if I am at the computer. My hands are tied up clicking a mouse so I actually put my fork down. Otherwaise I don't think my fork ever stops. At lunch, I have a hard time since I am a teacher. I get 30 minutes for lunch but I never see 30 minutes. Your lunch period start but that also includes walking kids down the hall to lunch and picking them up. Let's not forget the phone may ring or someone needs something. I see 30 min at the most and I have so many other things to do also. So I am done within 5-10 minutes. For the past few weeks I have been trying to make a concious effort to slow down and enjoy my food.It is it hard but I have noticed I am not hungry after 1 plate. Report
I knew this. I was told this in the hospital once. I was also told by a Case Worker I had that it takes 7 minutes for what you swallow to get to your stomach unless you have a drink with your food and then it gets there quicker. Makes sense when you think of how long our intestines are. Eat slow, wait about 10 minutes before deciding on more food or the next round of food. Report
I know of both sides of this. The last one to leave our dinner table was always my step-mom - we'd be clearing around her *grin* and she was always large. However, when I can convince myself to eat slow, I generally eat less. Report
Easier said than done, but a nice reminder that will help me to refocus. Report
My daughter in law has taught me a lesson.She always is the lasr person at the table finished eating.She eats very slowly.She wears a very small size in clothing some where between a four and a n eight I would estimate.She is not only healthier but injoys her meal tremendiously! Report
I agree that slowing down eating helps alot. After years in the army when scarfing down food was the only way, This has been a challenge. Recently I started to use mindfull eating. You pay attention to what you are eating and with every bite observe taste, texture,and the enjoyment of the food. It is hard to over eat this way because your stomach singles have time to catch up with your brain and because cravings are satisfied with a couple of bites since you slowed down to savor each and every bite. Report
After years of teaching, I've become used to eating quickly. We're lucky if we get 20 minutes for lunch, and we often have many things to do in that time besides eating. Even when I tell myself to slow down, it's difficult. Report
I've been told to slow down to loose weight my whole life, and it never did me any good;. The I started SP and started portioning out my meals beforehand, and that did the trick. I discovered that my brain is especially slow in getting those full signals. So I could chew and chew and put my fork down a ton, and I still wouldn't know I was full in time to stop eating at the right time. Now I just know what a portion looks like, and I eat one portion of food. If I'm still feeling hungry 30-45 minutes after I'm done eating, I get a snack. But no second helpings at mealtime.

As for distraction, I admit sometimes I do intentionally distract myslef. I eat some healthy foods that I don't exactly love. So, then I will just read or something while I shovel it in. (Giant plates of raw veggies, etc.) Not that I hate it, but the more I focus on it, the less I like it. I'm fine with it if I don't focus. However, when I'm eating something I really love I try to savor each mouthful. And, yes, I think this is a sustainable way of life for me, especially since he more I eat those healthy foods, the more palatable they become to me, to the point that some of them have even become enjoyable. Report
I've always been a slow eater. I was the last to leave the table, sometimes I sat eating by myself for a good 5 minutes. I'm still fat! I put too much on my plate at a time and when I'm home I eat between meals . I always feel hungry no matter how much I eat. Report
Put down your fork between bites.

I try to relax and actually lay down my fork and chew every once and awhile. I make a conscious effort to enjoy my meal. It takes practice.

Too many times I have been watching tv while eating, I notice that something taste great but then realize I ate most of it without enjoying it nor noticing it. That's when I remind myself to put down the fork and enjoy my food.

It really takes practice. Report
I also use portion control to limit how much I eat. It's just really difficult for me to slow down my eating. Even when I think I'm eating slowly I'm usually one of the first people done eating. At restaurants, I'll either share an entree or I'll ask for a box so that I can portion out what I'll eat (some restaurants put on one plate a serving for 4 people so I can't even just split it in half). Report
My family is working on eating at the table instead of watching tv with a meal. We end up talking and laughing more which causes us to slow down. I wish that could work for me at work. It's a process. Report
How true! Between getting home, trying to prepare dinner while chasing the puppy away from the cats to sitting down and inhaling my dinner so that the new puppy isn't being constantly yelled to stop begging... New project: Taste my food. Eat slowly!! Report
I admit I'm a fast eater. I don't consciously try to slow down, but now I think I should. Thanks for the info. Report
The SparkTeam for "I CAN MAKE YOU THIN" base on the book by Paul McKenna, has made me aware of his four rules, one of which is to take a bite, put down the fork and chew the food.
That slows you down, for sure. Report
I am a speed eater-- always have been. I can attest to shoveling in way too much food b/c by the time my stomach catches up to my eating I'm way over capacity. Report
This is so true - I have tried a number of things to try to slow down when I eat. When I succeed, I feel fuller and don't eat as much. One of my favorites is to eat with chopsticks. I don't do it very well so I definately eat slow! Report
I too have the trouble of having the kids to feed right at dinner time. It is crazy chaos from 4:30 until everyone is fed. Recently, I have started feeding the entire family, cleaning up a little bit, and then when the kids are leaving the table I eat. They run off and play while I enjoy 5 minutes of peace in front of my plate of food. Yes, a little bit of peace makes me eat a little slower and relax. I do however also have the really bad habit of sitting in front of the TV when I eat an evening snack (which goes right to my hips). Thanks for the article and the reminder about eating slower! Report
I always remember festive occasions. After I have worked all day to make a beautiful dinner and all the family is around the table and we are all laughing and talking and having fun, I have noticed I put much less food on my plate. And during all the fun at the table I find I don't eat all the food on my plate and I feel full and happy. My husband and I have a sit down meal every night and play catch up about our day. Report
So true. The faster I eat, the more I eat. The slower I eat, the less I eat. The faster I eat the less appreciate. The slower I eat the more I appreciate, even though there's less. Report
Having grown up in a not so healthy home environment, my siblings and I learned that the faster we ate meant the quicker we could get away from the table and my parents. So, there was not positive eating role-modeling going on. To this day, 25 plus years later, even though my homelife is very healthy andquite reasonably functional, I still eat too fast although I have tried to do better. Since starting SP and after reading much of the information from this website and other online resources about slowing down, I have requested that my husband help me. He does this by telling me to "slow down" if he sees me eating too fast. This has proved very helpful as I have begun to see a change in my behaviours and I find the slower I eat, the less likely I am to go for that "second" helping. I'm learning to stop and ask myself "am I really still hungry/" We also try to turn off the TV and computer when we eat although that is at times a struggle. Report
I agree, the 30-times chew thing, I have heard that before and tested it out. I discovered some of those foods that I thought I "loved" weren't really as good as I thought! Report
I have found when I take the time to chew each bite of food 30 times I am full halfway through the meal. Plus it allows me to taste every bite. Give it a try! Report
When dinner is almost ready, I make the kids use the bathroom and wash their hands. Then they have to turn off the tv and come sit at the table to eat. I leave my phone in the back room and if someone calls, I let it go to voice mail. This way, there are no distractions and no one should need to leave the table unless it's an emergency. This allows us to catch up on one another's day and take a little time to connect in our busy schedules. Report
We all should slow down and actually TASTE our food. Perhaps if we tasted each bite more, we would easily be satisfied with less. Mindless eating, in front of the TV etc. has been the biggest downfall I think for alot of us.

I remember the days of eating with my family around the table....I was a THIN Kid then....then along came TV, and TV trays, and TV meals....I began to gain weight.... Report
I actually think food tastes better if I have some water between every few bites -- also helps me eat a lot more slowly. Doesn't mean I don't ever overeat (I wish!) but it does force me to slow down. Report
As an RN in an intensive care unit, you eat where ever you can and quickly! Unfortunately, that necessity has also become a habit at home. Get it done quickly and move on to important things. Such a hard habit to break. I've tried the "chew your food 30 times before swallowing"....sigh...I just am not able to do it. Report
I don't slow down at all. I usually eat while standing. My biggest problem not eating enough then grabbing anything in my path when I see it. I'm like a hoover vaccum and just scarf it up. Report
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