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Easy Way to Reduce Calories: Eat Slowly

Our modern lives are defined by speed. How quickly can you increase profits? How fast is your internet? How fast does your car go? We’re even to a point where two-day shipping is too slow as more services role out same-day shipping.

This get-it-done-as-fast-as-you-can mentality has crept into our eating habits as well. Our rush to get to the finish line has us “inhaling” our first heaping server and standing to get seconds before we’ve even swallowed what’s left of the first. We live fast so we eat fast. As a result, we consume far more calories than we need to do, and we often eat well beyond the point where we feel full.

The Habits of Health have long encouraged the idea of taking your time when you eat. Savor your food. Chew more slowly. Take the time to drink some water every few bites. We knew long ago that these simple Habits of Health could help you not only enjoy your meal more but also lead to a lower intake of calories. When you eat more slowly, you are more likely to recognize that you are full and satisfied well-before the point of overeating.

As we’ve seen with other Habits of Health, recent research supports the idea of taking your time when you eat. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology found that participants who reported eating quickly (over a three-year period) were more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome. It’s important to note that this study relied on self-reporting, so we can’t be exactly sure what speed constitutes “fast,” but the conclusion the researchers reached is not surprising to anyone that has followed the rise of the obesity epidemic.

The takeaway for you is that you should probably give yourself more time to eat, and you should chew a bit more to enjoy the flavor of your meal. I don’t expect you to take out a stopwatch or to count your chews each time you eat. But you can be more mindful of yourself when you are eating.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Use a nine-inch plate to limit your servings in the first place. We were often taught to eat everything on our plates as children, so we have a tendency to want to eat everything in front of us. If you start with less, you are likely to eat less.
  • Chew your food thoroughly. This is not only better for your digestion, but it will mean that you will recognize that you are full before you’ve drifted into over-eating.
  • Pause to hydrate. Drinking water every few bites will help you feel full and help you to space out your calorie consumption mid-meal. You will feel full sooner and eat less overall.
  • Don’t eat in front of the television. When you are working to be mindful of your eating, plopping down in front of the television is likely to put your brain into autopilot. You’ll eat and eat without even realizing it. Instead, sit with your family and break up your bites with good conversation.

Food is a wonderful joy in life. If you take your time, you can enjoy a healthy meal and keep yourself from overeating!

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