Are you snacking on the run, cramming lunch down during a ten-minute break or mindlessly munching in front of a screen? If so, you’re not alone. Speed eating is all too common in our society. But this habit has many unhealthy side affects: poor digestion, weight gain, discomfort after meals, fatigue. If practiced over time, speed eating may lead to obesity and a severe disconnection with our food, which affects not only our physical but also our mental and emotion health.
Five reasons to slow down:
1. Digestion: When we eat slower, we give ourselves time to chew our food properly. Digestion begins with the enzymes in our mouth. As we chew, these enzymes and our teeth begin breaking down our food into digestible bits. This entry-point is crucial to healthy digestion.
2. Nutrition: The nutrients in our food are released as we chew. Taking the time to chew properly unlocks more healthful elements of our food, that we may not absorb as well when quickly swallowing large bites. And in the long run, eating slower creates a connection to and appreciation of our food. In turn, we make healthier choices about what we eat.
3. Preventing weight gain: As we eat, our body sends signals to our brain about how full we are. If we eat too fast, the signal for “stop, I’m full!” doesn’t reach our brain in time – so we over-eat, consuming too many calories, which leads to weight gain. Studies show that when we eat slower we eat less AND we feel more satisfied.
4. Peace: Our days are busy, packed with work, errands and socializing. The pace and amount of stimulus in the modern world cause many of us to feel stressed and anxious. These states weigh heavy on our body and are detrimental to our whole well-being. Make meal time an opportunity to slow down. Instead of feeling heavy and lethargic after eating, you can feel renewed, refreshed and appreciative.
5. Pleasure: Food is delicious! But when’s the last time you allowed yourself to truly enjoy a meal? We forget that simple acts like eating, can be extremely pleasurable. Advertisements encourage us to seek out constant distractions, alcohol or extremes for enjoyment, but these jolts will always fall short of true, rich, sensation. We can treat all five senses to joyful bliss during every meal.
Ready to get started feeling better and enjoying your food more!? Try these simple tips today and let us know how it goes.
For more information about the detriments of speed-eating and tips to curb this habit, see Savor: Mindful Eating Mindful Life, Pg. 124 – 145.