10 – Tips for Slowing Down
Tips to Slow Down Your Eating
For most of us, recognising that we are eating too fast is the easy part. Eating quick meals is something that we have been doing almost our entire lives and is deep-rooted in our daily habits. Why do you think “fast food” restaurants are so popular?? It’s fast, it’s easy and it allows us to move on to the next important task in our schedule.
Slowing down is the challenge!
Of course, if it was easy everyone would be doing it and getting all the great benefits from eating slowly – and we could skip this entire habit.
The reality is that most people need to be reminded to slow down and be in the now.
Today we are going to go over some simple tips that you can use to help you slow down during your meals. Not all will work for you, so give them a try and find the one that works the best FOR YOU!
One of the most common mistakes is being distracted while eating meals (and snacks).
Turn off the TV, put your phone in another room and don’t eat while driving, when possible. Eat your meals seated at a table – the amount of clients who have told me that they eat their dinner standing while also doing the dishes at the same time is insane! Setting up a simple, distraction-free environment will allow you to focus on what you’re doing now: enjoying your food and monitoring how your body feels.
This can also give you some much-needed family time that you might not otherwise get. It can be a luxury these days to get everyone together for a meal. Cherish it and don’t dilute it with having electronics around. Engage in some real conversation and help out your social health in the process!
Put Your Utensil Down Between Each Bite
Taking the time to put your utensil down after each bite is a great way to take more time between bites. If you pay attention, you will notice many people who shovel bites of food into their mouths even before they have swallowed the previous bite.
Instead, take the time to breathe between each bite and make sure you have fully swallowed the previous bites before taking your next bite.
Set a Minimum Number of Chews per Bite
This might take some practice but this is a sure fire way to slow you down. Start simple: 10 chews for each bite you put in your mouth. This may feel like an eternity right away but keep at it. Once you can get up over 20 chews per bite, you will really be making progress.
Did you know that your saliva plays an important part in digestion? By chewing up your food, you are kicking off the digestion process in your mouth, where it’s supposed to begin. More chews = smaller food = more easily digested. The goal here is to make your food as liquid as possible so that proper digestion can take place.
Use Different Utensils
If you do not want to have to think about slowing down and want to just make it more automatic, experiment with using different utensils. The first way to do this is to use a smaller spoon or fork. This will not allow you to shovel quite so much food in on every bite. The next way to achieve this is to use chopsticks. This will slow you down, as they are harder to use and require smaller bites.
These are a few tips for you to start trying right away. Give these a try and see which one works the best for you.
Create a proper environment for eating by eliminating distractions.
Breathe between bites. Try setting your utensils down.
Set a goal of how many times you are going to chew each bite.
Try something different! Use chopsticks for your next meal.
Tune into your Cues
In order to be able to control your hunger and stop eating when you’re full, you need to practice reading your body’s signals. The problem is, many of us run around all day, busy and frantic, which gets us out of tune with our bodies.
Digestion does not work properly in sympathetic mode.
The sympathetic mode of the body is part of the nervous system that’s pretty primal and out of your control. If you’ve ever heard the term “fight or flight”, this is a reference to the sympathetic nervous system.
It is regulated by a part of our nervous system that is outside our consciousness and acts on automatic responses. These responses prepare the body for action and to defend itself by increasing heart rate, raising body temperature, dilating pupils, sweating, and so on. It also slows down digestion, which is counterproductive during meal time.
Eating fast puts us in a rushed state.
When you eat in a rush, or while you’re feeling stressed, nervous, or anxious, your body keeps you in sympathetic mode. Since the primary job of your body when stressed is to prepare to defend itself or to run away, all of your body’s energy goes to the most essential functions like your muscle constriction, instead of helping you to digest food and to stay in touch with your body’s subtle feelings.
When in the sympathetic mode, your body doesn’t care about your digestion, immunity, or your feelings. This makes it really hard to be in touch with hunger signals and to know when to stop eating. It keeps your body working, and eating, on “autopilot.”
What does this mean? You continue to eat whatever’s in front of you without thinking much about the experience or how you’re feeling. You miss out on the tastes, smells, textures, and full experience of eating when you don’t slow down and tune in.
Slow down when you eat and try to “stay in the moment”.
Put your fork down in between bites. Keep the lights dim. Play some music. Take your time. Allow 15-20 minutes to go by, so you get the full experience of eating and your stomach and brain have the chance to catch up with you, and signal that you’re full.