Are you always the first one to finish your meal? Do you often eat until you feel full? If so, you may want to rethink your eating habits. Research has confirmed what nutrition experts have surmised all along. People who eat quickly and until they are full are more likely to be overweight.
In one landmark study, more than 3,000 Japanese men and women ages 30 to 39 filled out a questionnaire about their eating habits. Half the men and a little more than half the women said they ate until they were full. Slightly fewer than half of both men and women reported that they ate quickly. The findings took into account participants' ages and activity levels.
- Those who said they ate quickly and until they were full had a higher total energy intake and a higher body mass index (BMI).
- They were also three times more likely to be overweight than those who didn't eat until they were full and didn't eat quickly.
Tips for slowing down eating
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is actually full. If you are a fast eater, think about the excess calories you can take in during a 20-minute time period.
With that in mind, use the following suggestions to help slow down your pace of eating. Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy your food more, and may help prevent overeating and unwanted weight gain. If you are already overweight, these suggestions may help you shave off a few pounds.
- Before you eat, focus on your stomach. Be aware of how it feels when you're truly hungry and your stomach is empty. As you start to eat, pay close attention to what your stomach feels like as it begins to fill with food.
- Count your chews. Chew every bite a minimum of 10 to 20 times.
- Eat one small bite at a time. Be sure you have chewed it and swallowed it completely before picking up another bite.
- Put down your fork or spoon after each bite. This will slow down the automatic response of fork-to-mouth.
- Close your eyes. Eating will become a whole new experience, and it will take you longer to get the food from your plate to your mouth.
- Keep portions small. With small portions, you'll need to get up and go to the kitchen for more. This slows you down a little and helps you know how much you're actually eating.
- Use a small spoon or chopsticks. It's hard to eat too fast with a smaller spoon or a pair of chopsticks.
- Enjoy and savor every bite. Pay attention to your meal and make the most of it.
- Reduce distractions. Don't mindlessly eat while doing something else. If you are reading, watching television, or working at the computer, it can be hard to enjoy your food or pay attention to your fullness cues.
- Try to stick to an eating schedule. Skipping meals or waiting too long to eat can cause your hunger to soar, making it more likely you will gobble down your food and overeat.
- Pace yourself. Using a clock or timer, practice making your meal last at least 20 minutes.
Created on 02/03/2011
Updated on 02/07/2011
- Sasaki S, Katagiri A, Tsuji T, Shimoda T, Amano K. Self-reported rate of eating correlates with body mass index in 18-y-old Japanese women. International Journal of Obesity. 2003;27:1405-1410.
- American Dietetic Association. Eating habits reveal the real you.
- American Dietetic Association. How and why you eat are as important as what you eat.
- Maruyama K, Sato S, Ohira T, et al. The joint impact on being overweight of self reported behaviours of eating quickly and eating until full: cross sectional survey. British Medical Journal. 2008;337:a2002