So I have been building this post up a bit. I posted about it on facebook earlier on this week and even sent out a notification to all my newsletter subscribers yesterday foreshadowing it's coming. You may be wondering why all the hype and the reason is because I honestly think that the key to overcoming your poor relationship with food and nutritional habits comes down to slowly and methodically altering your behavior patterns. This is done through taking on new behaviors one at a time to replace old behaviors.
I think most people approach changing their nutrition in a complete opposite way. They want to make a 180 degree turn around in one day. Throw out all their bad food and go 100% paleo! While I admire the enthusiasm of such people I have seen time and time again this approach fails 9 times out of 10.
Baby steps, that is the way to success. Conquer one hill at a time.
In order to start this approach you have to pick a behavior to change and a behavior to replace it with. I thought I would help by offering a behavior I think everyone could benefit from changing especially if the goal is fat loss or weight maintenance. This behavior is eating fast.
You see most of us have been conditioned to be able to consume are meals quickly and efficiently. I bet some of us could give Kobayashi a run for his money (; D). Whether this is because you only have "x" amount of minutes for lunch, clients booked out the wazoo, or you just feel like eating is a waste of time it doesn't matter. Most of us have the ability to put down a large amount of food in a short amount of time.
This while at times can be beneficial is ultimately in the long run a bad habit. You see eating fast increases the chances for overeating because it often takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to register satisfaction. So you may eat double the amount of food you need to feel full, but you just didn't know it because your body wasn't given a chance to realize how much it had taken in. Eating fast has also shown to decrease a person's perceived satisfaction with a meal when compared to it eaten at a slower pace.
So what we need to do is replace this detrimental behavior of eating to fast with a new good behavior. This behavior is going to be eating slowly, the exact opposite.
Now your probably thinking something along the lines of:
Eating slowly stevan? What the heck is that going to do for me? I won't be eating anything different? How can this work?
Now hold on before you start tearing away at the idea hear me out. I am not crazy. I have seen this one behavior have dramatic effects for people. Let me start by sharing exactly why eating slowly will benefit you.
1. Satiation and Portion Control
As we alluded to earlier your body takes approximately 20 minutes to register satiation. This has to predominately with the interaction between your bodies nervous system and endocrine system.
The former plays a role in regulating signal transmissions between the digestive system and the brain and the later plays roles in the secretion and re-uptake of a variety of appetite related hormones. Appetite regulation is a very important and complex process.
But important to us is that it takes this process around 20 minutes to react to the intake of food and decide whether satisfaction has been reached or not. This means that by replacing our fast eating habits with slow eating habits we reduce the possible chance that we eat too much food than what is necessary to satisfy our hunger.
Which happens quite frequently for most. You know that feeling you get after standing up from the table, your belly is tight, you are just a little bit nauseated, and most often say out loud "I'm stuffed".
A study performed at the University of Rhode Island demonstrated this effect beautifully. 30 women were served lunch under two different circumstances.
The lunch they are was a large plate of spaghetti plus a glass of H2O to drink. During each meal the women were told to eat till comfortable. During one of these meals the subjects were told to eat as fast as they could and during the other visit they were asked to eat slowly and to put down utensils between bites.
The results were crazy the women ate 67 less calories in the 20 minute difference between meal durations. This doesn’t seem significant, but consider this figure times 3 or 4 meals a day and it starts to add up. Plus not only did those who ate slower eat less they also reported longer lasting satiation.
This means that if everyone would slow down to eat you would eat less at each meal as well as feel fuller. Both of which aid in the effort to lose weight and keep it off.
2. Improved Digestion
Digestion of food is a process made up of a number of different enzymatic reactions. The process begins when we anticipate eating and ends with the excretion of waste products. All of these reactions are rate limited steps meaning they all require a certain amount of time to prepare, work, and resolve.
When eating food rapidly we rush this process and thus the reactions needed for digestion before all the necessary pieces are in place for proper digestion.
A study that was performed at the University of Rhode Island researchers wanted to examine how the speed of food consumption affects the stages of digestion. They did this by recruiting 60 young people and had them eat in a meal. The subjects were divided into three groups: one group was a slow eating group only allowed to consume 2 ounces of food every minute, the next group was a medium speed eating group allowed to consume 2.5 ounces of food each minute, and the final group was a fast eating group allowed to consume 3.1 ounces of food each minute.
This study showed that the fast eaters took larger bites of their food and chewed less before swallowing each bite. Since digestion begins in the stomach the food for the faster eaters was not initially properly digested so when it goes to the stomach and GI tract the food is still in large pieces which makes the food more difficult to be digested into chyme. If the food isn't properly digested into chyme it can cause GI problems and stomach issues.
All of which can be avoided by slowing down to eat.
Now your probably thinking "Okay I get that eating slowly can help me, but how the heck am I going to start eating slower?" Well that is what I am here for! Let me share with you just a few techniques for helping you slow down while eating.
1. Eat in a calm and non distracting environment. For some of you this might not be an even remotely plausible option, but if you do have the ability to put yourself in a place where you can focus on your meal alone and not be distracted by tv, phone calls, texting, or driving you will pay more attention to the food in front of you, savor each bite, and chew throughly.
2. Add some fibrous food to every meal. By fibrous food I mean foods that have high fiber contents. Vegetables are the best option as their cellular structure makes them a bit stiffer and crunchier. This means you will spend more time chewing before swallowing each bite.
3. Between each bite force yourself to set your fork down. This one may seem a bit odd and make you look as if you have OCD, but seriously it is one of my favorite strategies for making people slow down and chew their food. The way I coach people to do this is by taking a bite of food and immediately setting your fork back on the table. Then you chew your food all the way and swallow it before picking up the fork to take another bite. It works wonders.
4. Carve out time in your schedule for your meals. I know I know your a high powered executive and have no time for anything, but phone calls and emails. But nutrition is an important part of a healthy life style and longevity so I suggest you find time to devote to it. I recommend setting a time to 20 or 30 minutes and forcing yourself to stretch your meal out through the entire length of time. This forces you to pace yourself and eat slower.
I recommend you try out all the strategies you can think of for practicing slower eating, even those I did not list. Then keep those that work for you and feel natural and discard the ones that were awkward and unhelpful.
It may take some practice and time, but focus on the behavior and stay consistent. Eventually you will succeed and continue that success.
I promise you that this simple behavior can do wonders for teaching you about hunger, your body's signals for appetite, and controlling portion size.
If you have any strategies for eating slower drop them in a comment below would love the help!
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