“Slow down, you eat too fast. Got to make the mealtime last. Feelin’ groovy!”
adapted from: The 59th Bridge Song by Simon and Garfunkel.
Humans are social beings; we enjoy eating in groups. Sharing a meal with friends is a pleasure to be savored. If you are always the first one to finish a meal, you are eating too fast. Slow down. Not only are you ignoring the sensual gratification of a good meal, you are ignoring metabolism signals that control weight.
The 30 minute secret
A study last month looked at weather speed of eating had an effect on satiety, or feeling full. People were given identical ice cream servings on different occasions; they were asked to eat the ice cream within 5 or 30 minutes. Blood samples were taken at each occasion to measure hormones of satiety. The result? Two powerful signals of fullness, glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide YY, were significantly higher when eating slowly. Metabolism is complex. Within the past few years we have found mechanisms of why we feel hungry or full, signals from the stomach, small intestine and brain interact in an intriguing orchestration. In a sense, your digestive tract tells your brain when to stop eating. But when you eat very fast, you miss the signal. Eating rapidly causes you to consume more.
Another study of over 3,000 people reported in the British Medical Journal found that individuals who eat rapidly triple their risk of becoming overweight. Because slow eating speed is so important – allow 30 minutes for each course of a meal.
Three tips to help you slow down:
- Wait for everyone at the table to take the first bite. Take your first bite after everyone has taken theirs. One of my patients told me this was the best bit of advice he had ever received!
- Put your fork down during the meal. Take time to converse with your dining companion. When you place your fork down, you allow yourself time to taste your meal. And you are able to respond to the satiety signals appropriately.
- Drink water throughout the meal. Water is calorie-free; taking time to drink water gives you more time to respond to metabolic signals. Drinking water before and during a meal reduces hunger and increases satiety.1
Eating too fast is just a bad habit. All you need to do is recognize the problem and then correct it. Keep the 30 minute rule in mind. By slowing down you will become a leaner and more pleasant dining companion.
1 Lappalainen R, Drinking water with a meal: a simple method of coping with feelings of hunger, satiety and desire to eat. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 1993; 47:815-819.