Are You Like This Woman on the Bus?

Recently, I was riding the bus when a passenger sitting near the front caught my eye. I was transfixed by how fast she was eating from a takeout container. I’ve seriously never seen anyone inhale food so rapidly, not even at a hot dog eating contest.

All the sudden, she started having a coughing fit. As I realized she was choking, her eyes rolled back into her head and she passed out on the floor! A guy near me ran to help her as I reached for my phone to call 911. Thankfully, she came to within a few seconds, was able to clear the obstruction, and the bus went on its way.

Your Body is Always Talking to You
While this is an extreme example of the possible consequences of fast eating, it serves as a good reminder that your body will always try to tell you when something you're doing isn’t working for it. Sometimes, as in this woman’s case, it will need to yell to get your attention. Her choking was a desperate scream from her body that it could not handle her rapid-fire eating.

Signs You’re Eating Too Fast
Whenever I bite my lip or tongue while eating, I know it’s a sign that I’m eating too fast. Here are some other red flags—some subtler than others—that signal you may be chowing down too quickly.

  • Burping
  • Flatulence
  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitating food
  • Bloated belly
  • Stomach pain  
  • Sensation of a “brick” in your belly
  • Overeating
  • Very little memory of actually eating your meal
  • Desire to eat again shortly after your meal
  • Food cravings
  • Lack of pleasure or satisfaction from your meal
  • Undigested food particles in your stool
  • Sluggishness
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Of course, other things can cause these conditions as well. However, if you are experiencing any of them, I encourage you to experiment with eating slower, including thoroughly chewing each bite, to see what impact it has. 

Slowing down does require dedicating more time for your meals, ditching distractions, and committing to changing the way you’ve probably been eating for decades. In the beginning, it also requires a hearty dose of patience until it becomes second nature. If you persevere, I promise you, the results will be worth it.

6 Reasons Why We Overeat

Do you frequently push your stuffed belly away from the table moaning, groaning and berating yourself for once again eating too much and having absolutely no willpower?
 
There are many reasons why we overeat and none are actually due to a lack of willpower. Let's explore a few:
 
1. Distracted Dining (Lack of Awareness)
How often do you eat with complete focus on your food and body? If rarely, you're not alone.

Distracted dining is a result of our addiction to constant external stimulation and multitasking--e.g., eating while working, watching TV, reading, texting, driving, walking, dressing, cleaning, etc.
 
2. Nutrient Starved
We live in an overstuffed, undernourished nation. Many people are nutrient starved due to an overconsumption of low-quality, processed, fake foods or a lopsided diet (e.g., very low carb or fat). When your body isn't fed a nutrient-rich, balanced diet, it will constantly desire more food in an attempt to obtain all the nourishment it needs to thrive.
 
3. Erratic Eating Rhythm
An erratic eating rhythm inevitably leads to overeating. Skipping breakfast, skimping on lunch, or eating a late supper because you're too busy to eat, trying to lose weight or fearing weight gain will often result in overating at dinner or nighttime binge eating.
 
4. Fast Eating
When you eat fast, your brain doesn't have a chance to register fullness or satisfaction so it screams for more food. Many of my clients have admitted to eating so fast that an hour later they can't remember if they even ate. Even if your belly is full, your brain is still hungry driving you to eat more food more frequently.
 
5. Need for Grounding
Do you live a fast-paced, chaotic life without quiet, calm respites for re-centering? If so, your scattered energy may lead you to overeat as the very act of eating is grounding. A big plate of food can elicit big-time relief (albeit temporary).
 
6. Pleasure Deficient
When your food doesn't give you pleasure, you may eat more in search of satisfaction. This might happen if you're eating a lot of diet, non-fat, poor-quality or uninspiring foods. Or, if you're consuming an unvaried diet, following a rigid plan, or eating meals prepared hastily without love.
 
Also, if your life is void of pleasure, food can become your main source of it. Overeating occurs when you rely on food for fulfillment instead of experiencing pleasure from other life pursuits.
 
Reflect, Then Act
As I mentioned, these are just a few of the many reasons why you might overeat. As you reflect on them, examine your own habits with compassionate curiosity. Then, in the spirit of experimentation, take action.

Consider making one change this week, whether it's switching off the TV, eating breakfast or enjoying a pleasure-filled activity. Experiment and notice the difference it makes.