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The Problem with Speed Eating

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever noticed how fast some people can eat? While no one has ever actually inhaled food, it is surprising how fast some folks can make a meal disappear.

When Americans go out to eat, we usually order a drink and socialize while waiting to be seated. Some order another drink before the meal is served, but when the food comes out it is time to eat.

I lived on Okinawa, Japan for nearly 10 years, and one of the first things I noticed was how long it takes the locals to eat a meal. Compared to America, dinners seem to last forever!

Does speed of eating indirectly affect body weight? Perhaps. Some fast-paced styles of eating seem to be synonymous with weight gain. Gulping food in a hurry, eating on the run, binge eating when hungry, filling your mouth with food before finishing the last bite, and routinely piling large amounts of food on your plate are examples of eating habits that may lead to overindulgence and weight gain.

If you already carry a few extra pounds, you have another problem. While people of normal weight feel full after about 10 minutes of eating, researchers from the University of Florida found that it took nearly twice as long for that signal to reach the brain of subjects who were overweight. When your brain thinks you are still hungry, it is likely that you are not going to stop eating, no matter how much food you have already had.

If you find yourself the first one finished at every meal, you should make a conscious effort to slow down your eating! Practice lengthening the time it takes you to eat by timing your meals. Put your fork down between every bite. Chew thoroughly and swallow before putting more food in your mouth. Take your time, try to relax, and savor your food. Give your brain a chance to receive the message that your stomach is full. And DO NOT be afraid to leave food on your plate!

Research carried out at Penn State University has determined that the volume of food is more crucial than total calories when determining your feeling of fullness. This means that you will feel full while eating fewer calories if you fill up first on lower calorie high volume foods.

Baked potato is a perfect example of a low calorie, high volume food that also requires a long time to eat. Heavy foods that contain water such as fruit also make you feel full on fewer calories. Hot, full bodied soup is always an excellent pre dinner choice.

The hungrier you are, the faster you'll eat. Use low calorie snacks during the day to keep that appetite in check.

If you have a tendency to eat fast and would like to lose weight, deliberately slowing down your eating at mealtime is a good first step. Allow yourself 20 minutes to finish a regular meal, but remember that the extra time isn't a license for extra indulgence.

It may take some getting used to, but once you start eating slower you may find yourself feeling full before you are finished. And eating less!
About the Author
Dave Elger is a well respected authority within the running community having written hundreds of articles on the topics of running and wellness. Learn more about running and wellness by visiting the website at daveelger.com .
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