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  • Writer's pictureAmy Jaffe MS RD LD

12 Strategies to Slow Down If You Are a Fast Eater

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

fast eater
Eating Fast Will Make Food Less Enjoyable

This is a common circumstance for many of my clients. Many report that they have always been a fast eater, even in childhood and they just don’t know how to slow down. They say they love food and want to get a lot of it. What is so important about slowing down anyway?

Among many reasons, there is the physiological consequences - the body likes to be in balance, in homeostasis. It does not like a big bolus of food all at once. You don’t chew the food as well, it taxes the GI system and makes digestion much slower and more difficult, often resulting in upset stomach, bloating, gas and constipation.

Fast eating does not give the brain enough time to receive signals from the stomach that it is filling up and satisfied. It usually takes 10-20 minutes for this to occur. Therefore, eating continues without the checks and balances the brain/body connection has to offer. Slower eaters therefore organically eat less… not because they force themselves to stop, they are just finished and satisfied more intuitively.

If you are eating quickly there is a good chance you won’t actually be tasting the food to the degree that is possible. When food is consumed very fast, it doesn’t spend much time in the mouth, where the taste receptors (taste buds) allow a person to derive pleasure, or displeasure for that matter, from a meal or snack.

If a person really likes food, they would slow down, be present and savor what they are eating. Slowing down allows a person to really identify the smell, texture, taste, feel of a food so they can decide whether or not they actually like it.

Many clients report that they realize they really didn’t like the taste of a food they had been eating and perhaps overeating in the past.

Also, if you eat quickly, then you don’t get the emotional satisfaction of the actual eating. Have you ever eaten something while watching tv or doing work and then look down at the empty plate and don’t even remember eating it all? So if you don’t remember even eating, there is the tendency to go looking for more food!

It is amazing that when fast eating clients do nothing else with their food, food patterns, except slow down, it can change everything!

Top 12 strategies to slow down

Reduce multitasking! It is harder to pay attention when you are doing multiple other things besides eating. If you can put on some soothing music, dim the lights, set a nice place at the table for yourself, these can definitely enhance the eating experience.

  1. Avoid eating while standing. Please sit down as often as possible!

  2. Pace yourself with a slower eater. Do your best to match or at least approximate their pace.

  3. Time yourself. Time the normal speed of eating with the stopwatch on your phone, then use that as the guide for subsequent meals to beat your time. In this case, slower!

  4. Count your chews (this is a hard one for me).

  5. Put your fork or spoon down in between bites.

  6. Use chopsticks. Don’t try this one if you don’t know how to use them in the first place…. You will get frustrated and not much will get into your mouth!

  7. Before eating, say grace or a prayer or an affirmation.  This will help shift your energy from what came before and bring mindfulness and being more present to the here and now, to the food in front of you.  The power of the Pause~

  8. Use your non dominant hand. There is less dexterity and it will force you to slow down. This Is probably the most popular technique.

  9. Sip water throughout the meal. (Don’t do this if you have had bariatric surgery)

  10. Avoid eating when you are starving! Overeating when your blood sugar is low is part of the body’s defense mechanisms and is part of the autonomic nervous system (like breathing). You don’t stand a chance of mindfulness if your body is starving.

  11. Eat socially, You are more prone to slow down if you are involved in social interaction and good conversation.

  12. Practice, practice… more mindful eating takes time and patience

You don’t have to be perfect with any of these ideas. Even if you remember half way through a meal or do it for your first few bites, it can make a difference. Try a few and see what works best for you!

Let me know what you discover so I can pay it forward!

For more personalized help, sign up for a free consultation.

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