If you're anything like me with packed schedules that require running (ahem, sprinting) from one thing to the next, eating can sometimes seem like an inconvenience. Something to get out of the way and move on to the next thing.
Yes, even I need these reminders from time-to-time, too!
But therein lies the problem. We have little to no awareness of what we're eating, let alone how much. We eat as mindlessly as if we were eating a bag of potato chips while watching TV only to find ourselves at the bottom of the bag with little recollection of how this even happened.
Eating slowly forces us to bring awareness to both what we're eating and how much. Even better, it gives us an opportunity to truly experience the food we're eating.
The best part about this habit? It doesn’t matter where you are, who you are with, or what food is available to you - it’s something that is always available to you.
Here are a couple of simple, practical strategies to bring this habit to life:
1. Breathe. Take a few breaths between each bite.
2. Sip water. Have a couple of sips of water between each bite.
3. Cut your food into smaller pieces and only pick up one piece at a time with your fork. Only go for another bite after you've finished chewing and swallowing the previous bite.
4. Set your utensils down between bites.
5. Chew each bite 15-25 times.
There's no need to try each of these strategies all at once. Pick the one that seems like it'll be the easiest for you to try and roll with that. If it doesn't work out, try it again. If after a couple of tries it still isn't working, refer to this and select a different strategy to try.
Remember, don't underestimate the effectiveness of this simple habit. For many that I work with, this is the habit where they have their first and often most powerful "a-ha" moment. In short, it works.
Bonus (but super important) tip: Once you notice that you're full, stop eating. Do not feel like you need to clean your plate. If there is enough to save, box it up. If not, compost it.
Your goal is to eat slowly for the majority of your meals with a majority meaning more than half. That's going to look different for everyone. Use the checklist below to help you build this habit. Modify this as you see fitting (e.g. maybe you need two "Eat Slowly for One Meal" boxes before you're ready for two meals).
One of the best strategies to prevent over-eating, a big contributor to overall weight gain, is to eat slowly.
But what if your goal is to put on weight or build muscle?
Well, eating a bit quicker can help.
Ultimately, you're trying to eat enough food to be in a caloric surplus before your body realizes. If you're in tune with your hunger signals (see Hunger Awareness card), you'll likely know when enough is enough.
Unfortunately, weight gain and especially muscle gain requires a bit more than enough.
We have to go about this strategically, however, otherwise, we're risking feeling lousy amongst a variety of GI issues. That's no fun for anyone.
We're not out to beat Joey Chestnut in a hotdog eating contest.
Generally, we want to move at a bit of a faster pace than normal.
The easiest way to go about this is to eat in a distraction-free environment as often as possible. This will allow you to focus on eating (be sure to chew your food!) and not be slowed down by outside distractions.