Blast Off: Slow down your eating

Sometimes it feels like there’s not enough time in a day to fit everything in, let alone sit down to a meal.

Sometimes it feels like there’s not enough time in a day to fit everything in, let alone sit down to a meal. Since most of us are always on the go, we tend to rush our eating as well, and that can have a big effect on weight loss, energy levels and digestion.  Does it ever feel like the meal that took you an hour to prepare was gone in 10 minutes flat?

You’re not alone. Most of us rush through our meals, barely taking the time to chew properly and then it’s off to the next task. Eating quickly allows us to consume a lot of extra calories because we haven’t given our stomachs enough time to realize that we’re full. Slowing down, chewing properly and savouring each bite are a few of the simplest ways of improving your overall health.

It takes roughly 20 minutes for our brains to send out the signal of satiety. Eating too quickly equals increased calorie consumption, which over time can really add up!

A study done at the University of Rhode Island served lunch to 30 people on two occasions. During lunch number one, the participants were asked to eat as quickly as possible until they felt comfortably full. On the second day, the participants were asked to eat slowly, put their utensils down after every bite, and eat until comfortably full.

The results showed that when the participants ate quickly, they consumed 646 calories in nine minutes. When they ate slowly, they consumed 579 in 29 minutes.

That’s an impressive difference! Multiply that calorie difference by 3 meals a day. Now imagine that over the span of an entire year and you can see why it would be so easy to pack on those extra pounds.

Another benefit to slower eating is improved digestion. Digestion actually begins in the mouth where we secrete saliva that contains enzymes to help break the food down.  While this is taking place, a signal is sent to our stomachs to start releasing digestive acids. Once the food enters the stomach, it is broken down over time through a process that requires a lot of energy. The more help we can give our stomachs by way of complete chewing, the better. Otherwise, we are left with food that is only partially broken down and that can lead to all sorts of gastrointestinal issues.While slowing down your eating process may sound pretty simple, it can take a bit of practise in the beginning. There are a few basic steps that can help keep things in check. For starters, put down your utensils after every bite. If you are putting more food into your mouth before you have even swallowed the first mouthful, then you are eating too quickly. Next, set aside 20 to 30 minutes to eat your meal. It’s never fun to try and scarf down something as you walk out the door. If you have planned time, it will be much easier to relax and enjoy. And lastly, sit down to a calm environment. If you are surrounded by distractions, your focus will be taken away from eating and, before you know it, your plate will be empty but you won’t feel satisfied. Meal time should be enjoyable. Slow down, savour and reap the benefits of better weight control and improved digestive health.

Hayley (250-688-0024)  and Kate (250-688-0221) are certified personal trainers with Fitness 4 Life. Visit their website at for current rates and specials.