Fast Eater? 10 Simple Slow-Down Tips

Do you wolf down your food?

If yes, you're not alone.

In our fast-paced culture, most people are speedy eaters. (If you’re not sure, click here.) 
 
Eating fast is a major stressor on your body. Not only does it agitate your digestive system, leading to gas, bloating, cramping, acid reflux and the like, it also compromises your body’s ability to effectively absorb nutrients and metabolize food. 
 
Rapid-fire consumption can also lead to overeating, binge eating, cravings, excess weight, low energy, cruddy sleep and other unpleasant side effects. 
 
Is eating fast worth feeling like crap? 
 
How to Put the Breaks On
How you eat is just as important as what you eat. Here are 10 simple tips to help you put the breaks on your fast eating: 

  1. Unitask. Only eat when you eat. Don’t watch TV, send texts, answer emails, fold laundry, drive your car, etc. You can’t pay attention to how you’re eating if your head is somewhere else.
     
  2. Sit at a table. Doing so tells your brain it’s mealtime, enabling it to better prepare for the incoming food. Eating while standing at your kitchen counter or walking down the street splits your attention diverting resources away from the digestive process. 
     
  3. Make time. Allocate more time for your meals so you’re not forced to rush—at least 20 minutes, ideally longer.
     
  4. Give it a rest. Set down your fork, spoon, sandwich, taco, pizza slice, etc. and rest your hands in your lap in between bites of food. 
     
  5. Chew thoroughly. Most folks chew a bite of food about five times before swallowing, which is most likely not enough, unless you’re eating mashed potatoes. Take smaller bites and try chewing each bite to smoothie consistency. Research shows chewing more leads to eating less and lowers ghrelin levels, the hunger hormone.
     
  6. Eat with your non-dominant hand. It will feel awkward, but it will definitely slow you down. So will eating with chopsticks if you suck at using them, like I do. 
     
  7. Sit next to a slow eater. Try to match his or her pace. 
     
  8. Take a few deep breaths. Before you dive into your meal, take three slow, deep breaths. Repeat a few times through out your meal. Doing so will slow down your pace and shift your body from the stress response to the relaxation response, the optimal state for digestion and metabolism.
     
  9. Play slow, mellow music. Just as fast-paced tunes encourage fast-paced workouts, they also encourage fast-paced eating. 
     
  10. Forgo fast food. It's designed to be eaten fast.

Your first attempts at eating slower may leave you feeling bored, restless or frustrated. Stick with it. Over time, it will become second nature. As I've seen with myself and with my clients, the results will be worth it.