Eating: It’s Not a Race

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • It happened to me this weekend … I was out to eat with my brother and some friends and half way through the meal I realized that I my plate was almost empty and everyone else had half their meal left. Has this ever happened to you?


    Experts say that many Americans eat too fast. It’s a side effect of our productivity-driven world. We are so focused on doing things quickly at work and in our personal lives that we have to make a conscious effort to slow down when doing things like eating. And when you eat too quickly, you don’t give yourself time to enjoy your meal. This can leave you feeling unsatisfied.

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    In fact, a large part of the enjoyment of eating is the visual and aromatic pleasures of the food. When you eat too quickly, you don’t get to enjoy the way that your food smells and looks on your plate. Eating your food too quickly can have real health consequences. It increases your risk of choking and can lead to acid reflux.


    Eating too quickly is also associated with an increased risk of obesity. Studies have shown that people who eat their food quickly are more likely to over-eat. It takes about 20 minutes for the message that you are full to get from your brain to your stomach. If you eat quickly, you have probably already over-consumed by the time the message that you are full reaches your stomach. And if you are eating quickly you probably aren’t monitoring how much food you’re putting into your mouth – especially if you are eating out of the bag.


    The good news is that there are very easy and simple techniques you can use to help you slow down when you’re eating. If you are a fast eater, here are some things you can do:

    • Put your fork down between bites. I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but it still rings true. If you have another bite on your fork before you’ve finished the one in your mouth – you’re eating too quickly. Putting your fork down and picking it back up between bites takes a few seconds. These can translate into minutes over the course of your entire meal.
    • Chew your food 10 times. Another one that you’ve probably heard before. Try counting the number of times you chew each bite, I think you will quickly find out that you’ve been taking very few bites.
    • Describe what your food tastes like. If you eat quickly, you probably don’t really taste your food. Next time you eat, think of words to describe the flavor and texture of the foods that you’re consuming.
    • Eat foods that require some work. Foods like artichokes, pistachios, sunflower seeds, crab and lobster aren’t ready to eat. If you have to work for your food, it will slow you down.
    • Engage in dinner conversation. If you eat with your family, try to put your fork down and participate in the discussion. Unless you talk with your mouth full, this will help you eat more slowly.
Published On: May 11, 2007

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