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Simply Slow Down!

Dear Ellen, I eat too fast and I have the impression that I eat more and always end up feeling too full and/or guilty. How can I slow down?

We are a rushed, distracted, and very busy society and many of us eat too quickly. Multiple studies have shown that the odds of being overweight are greater and calories consumed higher by fast eaters. In addition, slower eating has been shown to help us fill full faster. The benefits of slow eating can include better digestion, better hydration, easier weight loss or maintenance, and greater satisfaction with our meals. Start by asking yourself WHY you eat fast and then for improved health and well-being try these 12 One Simple Changes to put on the brakes!

1. Take time to eat and practice, practice, practice

It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness and feeling full often translates into eating less. In order to break the habit of eating quickly, make a point to practice mindful eating by scheduling it into the day until the new habits become automatic. Habits typically take 3-4 weeks to develop. For some habit developing tips, read more here.

2. Eat regularly

Eating slowly and taking smaller bites can be very difficult to do, especially when we are busy and starving. It can be easier to slow the pace if meals are eaten regularly, about every 4 hours and we do not reach the famished stage. Juiceplus nutrition bars between meals can help nourish and tide you over so you can slowly savour your next meal.

3. Sit Down

Sitting at a table to eat tells your brain you are having a meal. If you eat while standing, in the car or doing something else, you can quickly lose track of how much you’ve eaten. In addition, sitting down has been shown to help people eat less.

4. Reduce sizes

A clean plate is a powerful cue that a meal is finished and studies show that people eat more when they are confronted with larger portion sizes. Smaller portions on smaller plates are a reminder to take time and savour each bite. Try not to save the “best for last” because you might not be hungry by that time and it just might force you into “cleaning your plate”!

5. Remove distractions

Distracted eating has been shown to lead to weight gain. While reading, surfing the net, driving or watching TV, it is impossible to pay full attention to food.

6. Take smaller bites  

Looking at your full fork and purposefully putting back half – making half a bite – doubles the number of bites in a meal and automatically slows things down. Studies have revealed that taking smaller bites may help prevent such mindless overeating,

7. Put down your fork

Putting the fork or finger food – like a sandwich or burger - down can encourage us to relax and focus on chewing what we already have rather than on the next bite. Creating such a virtual speed bump that interrupts your meal can be a reminder to slow down and reassess hunger.

8. Drink

Consciously sip your drink throughout the meal. This requires putting the fork down, chewing and swallowing before eating more. It also adds liquid to your stomach and can help you feel fuller. Water is a perfect choice, but even sipping wine can slow down a meal.

9. Talk

If you are using your mouth to talk it is really difficult and impolite to put food into it! Eating with friends or family and having a great conversation can be an ideal opportunity to slow down. Many people also tend to eat slower when they are with others.

10. Create a calm environment

Environment can have a big impact on our mental state and the way we eat. Set the meal mood by dimming lights, lighting candles or quiet music.

11. Chew more

Food that's ready to swallow goes down too fast. The simple act of chewing can slow us down and increase the satisfaction from meals. Raw fruits and vegetables and high fiber foods such as Juiceplus nutrition bars tend to require more chewing.

12. Use an APP

A Slow Eating APP can be a powerful coaching tool during the habit change process. Some popular ones include “Am I Hungry?® Virtual Coach”, “Eat Slower” or “Hapi Fork”.