Rule 9. Slow eating
Slow eating means having a meal lasting at least twenty minutes. This time allows your hunger-satiety system to switch on completely. It also allows you to relax and gets the glands of your gastrointestinal tract working. The time you take to eat a meal directly impacts your health. All things being equal, a higher eating speed is associated with poorer health. According to some researchers, eating over 100 grams of food per minute is fast eating; and less than 60 grams per minute is slow eating. To find the optimal eating time, we can consider twenty minutes as the shortest time for a meal. You can make it longer, and in good company, you mustmake it longer!
From my experience with my clients with no self-enforcement, just with a longer meal, they noticeably decrease the number of calories consumed. We think fast food is what we buy in fast-food chains. Alas! Any food eaten quickly becomes fast food! Imagine for example how a crowd of people pass through narrow doors — they can do it easily if they move in a measured and careful way. If they don’t rush, everyone will get through without any problems. You can get caught up in a tussle if there’s a rush. Similarly, avoid crowding food products to encourage a calm and even flow!
How did the problem arise?
For thousands of years, people have eaten with friends and family. A child ate with his mother, an adult among their tribal members, and an old man among their relatives. Deprivation of the company to share a meal was one of the worst punishments. A meal used to be a strict ritual and had many traditions, which made it not just an act of loading nutrients into the digestive tract, but an almost sacred act needed for survival.
Nowadays, many factors destroy the culture of eating. The popularity of fast food, meals away from home, and food on the go, all lead to fast eating. The change in the family structure in modern societies and the weakening of family connections resulted in family members eating in different rooms or front of their TVs. The creation of ready-made food has made using cutlery or chewing food less necessary. Food dissolves in the mouth by itself. All these factors increase the speed of eating. This causes a risk of certain diseases. As well as increases the number of calories eaten and all the resulting problems.
How does it affect health?
Obesity. A clear correlation exists between how fast you eat and weight gain. Studies show that the weight of those who eat quickly exceeds the average by 4 kilograms, and those who eat slowly by 3 kilograms is less than the average. The risk of obesity doubles! Slow eating allows the hunger-satiety system to work well and reach satiation faster. The brain needs time to detect satiation. Slowing down the eating process leads to consuming 88 kcal less each meal. Over a year, even without changing the diet, this will lead to a weight loss of up to 10 kg!
Chewing. Insufficient chewing is a problem linked to fast food. We eat more mashed food products like cutlets instead of steaks, smoothies instead of whole fruits, and purees instead of whole vegetables. Thorough chewing is important to stimulate local mucous immunity, dental health, the formation of the facial skeleton in children, better satiation, and the control of hunger. It has a positive effect on the brain as well as stress resistance.
Moreover, chewing helps the activity of the stress axis decrease, and improves cerebral blood flow, memory, and neurogenesis. Thorough chewing stimulates the prefrontal cortex and active thinking and reduces the risk of neurodegenerative disorders. Excessive soft and mashed food products reduce stress resistance and dental health. The more intense you chew, the more you reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels. Thorough chewing reduces cortisol levels by 26 percent in twenty minutes.
The brain needs time to detect satiation. Slowing down the eating process leads to consuming 88 kcal lesseach meal. Over a year, even without changing the diet, this will lead to a weight loss of up to 10 kg!
Other problems. Fast eating increases the risk of diabetes and doubles the likelihood of heartburn. The risk of developing hypertension also increases. Often fast eating and gulping lead to swallowing air that causes stomach discomfort. Slow eating reduces this discomfort even after a heavy meal. Interestingly, those who eat slowly consume less salt. They are more likely to get pleasure from food and therefore don’t need to improve the taste with salt or bigger portions.
Eating culture. Children who eat alone have an increased risk of eating disorders in the future. So, children who eat twice a day separately from their parents, have a 40 percent higher risk of obesity. Children who eat with their family over five times a week have a lower risk of eating disorders, eat healthier foods and learn better. The greater the number of family dinners, the more vegetables people eat.
Apply the rule of slow eating is difficult and easy at the same time. Eat slowly for at least twenty minutes. While eating, chew thoroughly, pause, don’t get distracted, like reading a newspaper or looking at your phone, and talk to others. Remember that fast food is not only what we buy in fast-food chains, but also the food we eat quickly. Therefore, if you eat fast, even good food becomes fast food.
Time. The duration of a meal should be at least twenty minutes. You can use different ways to extend the meal: chew thoroughly, and focus on the taste, smell, and texture of the food. Use cutlery. Practice food rituals, if have any, and communicate. If you tend to finish your meal in five minutes, then twenty minutes will be hard for you. Add five minutes every three days and gradually get used to this. Use the stopwatch or alarm on your phone so you know the required length of the meal.
Remember that fast food is not only what we buy in fast-food chains, but also the food we eat quickly. Therefore, if you eat fast, even good food becomes fast food. Eat slowly for at least twenty minutes.
Chewing begins when biting off a piece of food the size you can comfortably chew. In the process, notice how the food moves to the back of the mouth, being crushed by teeth and then falling to the bottom of the mouth. The most common mistake occurs when you want to speed up chewing and use your tongue to transfer food to the back teeth. Don’t be in a hurry; let the movement take place naturally. Carefully chewed food, mixed with saliva, gives an excellent start to later digestion processes in the stomach and intestine. Researchers suggest different amounts of chewing movements, but it is important to chew until food becomes smooth. After that, swallow; pause when your oral cavity is free.
Pauses. Clean intervals and pauses between separate pieces of food during chewing help us resist mechanical chewing. You can ask yourself during these pauses if you want to eat another piece. Maybe you want to eat something else? You can chat during these pauses, look around and relax. Develop a habit of making a series of small pauses. Be sure to make them between different dishes.
Follow the sequence of dishes. Different nutrients in different ways affect the production of the specific hormone GLP-1. This compound slows down gastric emptying and reduces the level of hydrochloric acid. Slowing gastric emptying is associated with better satiation, as the food enters the small intestine and is absorbed later. The slower these processes are, the less likely an excessive blood glucose increase occurs after eating. The glucose level after eating, is too high, which is an early sign of diabetes. But it can also occur in healthy people, increasing the degree of glycation, oxidative stress, and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Studies found that vegetables, protein, and fat eaten at the beginning of a meal can reduce the rise in glucose from carbohydrate foods. Scientists studied the following food intake sequences: rice — fish, fish — rice, meat — rice, and rice — meat (the proportions and calorie content are the same). It turned out that by taking fish or meat first leads to better satiation, slows down gastric emptying, and contributes to a lower increase in glucose and glycemia, as well as to a higher production of the hormone GLP-1, in both diabetes patients and healthy participants!
Starting with protein and fatty foods, greens, and fiber-rich vegetables boost GLP-1 production. These foods saturate quickly and reduce the effect of carbohydrates. The ideal sequence of dishes is to have a salad of greens and vegetables (you can use olive oil), then proteins, and only after that — more heavy carbohydrates or fruits. This sequence of dishes gives the best glycemic control.
Company. Eating in the company is natural and good for a person in society. From The Last Supper when Jesus broke bread and gave it to his disciples to the latest scientific research data, we know that eating alone increases the production of ghrelin. However, eating with others stimulates the production of the anti-stress hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin stimulates the vagus nerve and improves satiation. The most enjoyable food is when you share it with people who are pleasant to you.
How to follow the rule? Ideas and Tips
Complex food. The more attention we pay to food, the slower we eat and the tastier it is. Complex food that requires effort and attention when consumed is a way to slow eating: for example, bony fish (but not fish cutlets), shell nuts (walnuts), pomegranate, crabs, coconut, quail, and boiled eggs.
The sequence of dishes. Organize your meal sequence according to its specific calorie content. Start with low-calorie foods like salads or soups. Then you can eat fish, meat and a side dish. Only after that, can youfinish the meal with a healthy dessert. Ideally, the serving is sequential.
Cutlery helps you eat more slowly. Use a knife, to cut a slice from a serving. For an experiment, try to eat soup with a teaspoon and feel the difference in satiation.
Food for chewing. Choose the food you can crunch and chew thoroughly, such as meat, root celery, and carrots. Crunch and chew the food.
Move away from the table during pauses. You can move away from the table to rest and look around.
Cutlery. Please do not always hold the cutlery in your hands; put it aside during pauses. When you put cutlery aside you eat slowly automatically. Use the knife to slice from a serving. For an experiment, try to eat soup with a teaspoon and feel the difference in satiation.
A comfortable place. Choose a convenient, comfortable place to eat, where you can feel relaxed and where you want to stay longer. Maybe it will be a window seat with an interesting view or a calm corner. Haste and stress spoil your appetite and stimulate overeating. Loud music can cut the pleasure of eating. Choose a quiet place.
Business and friendly contacts. Use food for networking. Eating relaxes you, allowing you to get to know someone better and form close confidential contacts. Chewing gives you the time to think before you answer. Eating alone quickly deprives us of a feeling of happiness.
Straighten up. Sit straight, loosen tight clothing, and let your posture relax. Do not sit hunched over a plate because this speeds up eating. Eat nobly. If you need to figure out how you are sitting, make a video of your meal and then watch it. Looking at yourself eating will be helpful to you.
Create a space for eating. Only keep the things related to eating on the table. Remove keys, phones, and notebooks. When you eat, you eat and that’s it!
Use food for networking. Eating relaxes you, allowing you to get to know someone better and form close confidential contacts. Chewing gives you the time to think before you answer. Eating alone quickly deprives us of a feeling of happiness.
Conscious nutrition. Pay attention to the texture, color, consistency, smell, and taste of food. Choose words to name them.
Complete your meal. After the last bite, complete your meal by cleaning your mouth. To do this, rinse your mouth or use chewing gum. This will help cleanse the mouth of food particles, improve oral hygiene, and helps you to keep a clean gap till the next meal.
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