When we eat too fast, we are likely to overeat because our brains have not had the time to recognize that we’re full.
When talking about my sixth nutritional tenet, Enjoy Your Food, I often say that when it comes to good nutrition, the way we eat is sometimes more important than what we eat. While I make a concerted effort to be present and mindful at mealtimes, I’ve always been a fast eater. Then, I married into a family of fast eaters, and my speed-eating habit only got worse. Hours spent preparing a beautiful, delicious meal, and then it’s gone in minutes!
Recently, I decided to take my own advice and utilize a strategy that I often recommend for others who struggle with the same issue of eating too fast: set a kitchen timer. My husband was on board with trying to slow down our meal pace, so for the past month, we’ve been setting the timer to 10 minutes when we sit down to eat. Although 10 minutes doesn’t sound like very long, you might be surprised. At least for a speedy eater like me, it takes considerable effort to stretch out a meal to that time. My husband’s and my goal is to work up to 20 minutes per meal, and right now we are up to 12. Research has shown that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the complex hormonal response that occurs when our stomachs are stretched to fully take effect and tell our brains that we are full. When we eat too fast, we are likely to overeat because our brains have not had the time to recognize that we’re full.
I added one more piece to the timer strategy that has been very effective for me, personally. When we are finished with our meal, I set the timer again for 10-12 minutes, and if, after that time, I am still hungry or want dessert, then I can take seconds or have something sweet. Usually, I get busy with cleaning the kitchen or I’ve moved on to other things, so when the timer rings, I find that I no longer want or need more food. When I do still crave dessert, waiting 10 extra minutes makes a piece of dark chocolate even that much more satisfying. The timer strategy has put a pause in what was becoming a nearly automatic habit of reaching for dessert after dinner.
If you can relate to any of these mealtime faux pas, feel free to try these simple solutions. And remember, sometimes the easiest and simplest solutions turn out to be the most effective!
Slow down, and enjoy your food!