Whether you’re trying to improve gut health, feel more satisfied after a meal, or lose and maintain weight you should consider taking your time while eating. This is much easier said than done, as I find myself shoveling the food in at alarming rates. I’ve had to slow down to ensure that my digestive system is primed to handle the food that it is about to receive.
Mechanisms of Digestion 101
Have you ever seen or smelled food and began to salivate at the beautiful display before you? That’s the 1st natural step in digestion. Saliva contains enzymes that help to digest food and to ‘wet the whistle’ in order that food be swallowed easier. The 2nd step, of course, is actually eating the food. Steps 3, 4, 5, 6 etc. are the stomach producing more acid, the small intestine preparing for peristalsis, etc. You get the point. Look at digestion as a snowball effect. Every new step builds upon the previous step. If you don’t chew your food enough times and take larger bites, you’re likely eating too fast and essentially skipping step 1 and prematurely filling your stomach before it’s had enough time to produce the requisite amount of acid to further break down the food into chyme — the liquid mix of partially digested food, stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and water that passes through the pyloric valve on its journey to elimination.
Improved State of Mind
I’m not here to sell you some hippie talk about how being mindful of your food habits will improve your overall health and mindset surrounding food.. Or am I? In a study done at the University of Rhode Island, researchers served lunch to 30 normal weight women on two separate occasions. The meals were exactly the same on both occasions. The only difference was on the first go around they were instructed to eat as quickly as possible and the second time they were told to eat slowly and put down their utensils between bites. The results were as you would expect. The fast eating group ate 646 calories in 9 minutes and the slow eating group had 579 calories in 29 minutes. That’s a difference of 67 calories over a span of an extra 20 minutes. Now to put that into perspective, imagine that you did this for three to four meals per day for a week. That’s an extra 1,407–1876 calories per week, given that every meal was exactly the same foods. Since that’s not the case, it could be higher than that some days and lower on others. Again, you see the point I’m trying to make. If you don’t want to grossly overeat on calories, take your time. Our macro trackers will love this tidbit of info for when they don’t feel like tracking at a relatives birthday outing, but also don’t want to completely derail all of their hard earned work. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, those who ate faster experienced greater hunger one hour after the meal was finished, whereas the slower eating group experienced a much longer lasting full-feeling.
Good hydration helps maintain the balance of our body’s fluids. It also energizes muscles (2% decrease in hydration equates to a 5–10% drop in athletic performance. Water helps our kidneys to flush out waste from the body and our bowels to excrete our waste more effectively. Lastly, it improves the appearance of the skin. And one side benefit of eating slowly is that it seems to increase water consumption during meals.
URI also did a similar study as the one mentioned above, but with regards to how much water was consumed in a meal. To spare you the details and save on time, the study basically concluded that drinking more water during a meal helped to decrease the amount of food, and subsequently calories, but didn’t do much for long term satiety (feeling more full).
1. Eat slowly
2. Drink more water while eating
Your digestive health, physique and performance will greatly reward you by just taking the time to eat more slowly.
Eat foods that are higher in fiber. They’ll take longer to chew, making you slow down.
Have a designated time to eat. Take 20–30 minutes and just relax, chew and enjoy.
Set a number of chews per bite (20–30). This will force you to chew it properly and consequently, you will be slower at eating.
Eat in a distraction free environment. This will help you to focus on the act of eating, rather than watching your favorite show and losing pace of your intake. This means no phone, TV, computer, etc.
If you enjoyed this blog and would like guidance on your nutrition or fitness, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. #takebackyourhealth
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