Nicely set dinner table with sun going down over the mountain in the background with text overlay: 1 Simple Trick to Help You Eat Less and Enjoy Food More

1 Simple Trick to Help You Eat Less and Enjoy Food More

Have you ever tried to go on a diet, only to feel hungry, cranky, and deprived all the time? What if I told you there was something simple you could do to eat less without feeling deprived?

Most of you probably know, I’m not a huge fan of diets. They can certainly be useful to help people who want to lose weight get started and have some initial success, but they can be hard to sustain. People get on the diet rollercoaster and can’t seem to get off.

As we talked about last week and the week before, rather than severely restricting ourselves, a way to make healthy eating more sustainable is looking at foods on a continuum of ‘Eat More,’ ‘Eat Some,’ and ‘Eat Less.’

There’s one more little trick that can help us with our healthy eating behaviors, and I wanted to share that with you today. The one trick that can help us eat less and enjoy our food more is….

Eat slowly and mindfully.

That’s it. Sounds too simple, doesn’t it? It is simple, but this one little thing can make a huge difference. Eating slowly and mindfully can be more important than most of the other things we do when it comes to our eating habits.

Why? Because when we eat slowly and mindfully, we generally eat fewer calories at each meal, which can add up to hundreds of calories saved over the course of a day. This is, as the folks at Precision Nutrition (1) say, “the secret weight-loss weapon everyone has access to, but nobody knows about.” It’s not just about losing weight though. Eating slowly and mindfully can also help us in other ways.

The Benefits of Eating Slowly and Mindfully

Here are just a few of the benefits we get from eating this way:

It can help us eat less without feeling deprived.

How does it help us with this? There are a couple of reasons.

  • It takes about 20 minutes for our brains to catch up with our stomachs when we’re eating. It generally takes about 20 minutes for our satiety signals to kick in. If we’re eating quickly, that might not happen until after we’ve already eaten past the point of fullness. Think about it — how many times have you finished a meal and then felt absolutely stuffed?
  • When we slow down and really savor our food, we get a lot more enjoyment from it, feel satisfied with less, and don’t feel we’re being deprived.

It can help us feel better.

Eating slowly can help us avoid bloating and improve digestion. That’s because when we eat quickly, we tend to not chew our food as well. When we don’t chew our food, we make it harder for our stomach to do its job of breaking those bigger pieces of food down. That can not only cause gas and bloating — it can also reduce the absorption of vitamins and minerals from our food.

Eating slowly and mindfully can help us get back in touch with our body’s ‘hungry’ and ‘full’ signals.

Over time, we can start to tune out our hunger and satiety cues. Whether it’s eating simply because it’s time for a meal or eating everything on our plate just because it’s there, we can start to lose touch with what feeling hungry or full really feels like.

When we make a regular practice of eating slowly and paying attention to how we’re feeling as we eat, we learn to recognize what our bodies are telling us. Over time, it can help us retrain ourselves to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full.

It can give us a tool that we can use anytime, anywhere.

You know, we can’t always control the food that’s available to us, but we can control how we eat it. For instance, when we go out to dinner with friends, or go to someone’s home for dinner, we might not get to choose the type of food we eat, but we can take the time to savor the food, enjoy the fellowship, and pay attention when our body tells us we’ve had enough.

With these benefits, it’s easy to see why we might want to give slow and mindful eating a try. Although it is simple and effective, it isn’t always easy. We’re such a ‘fast food’ society — we’re used to doing things quickly and moving on to the next things. It doesn’t usually come naturally. It’s something that we have to work at.

Person standing on mountain at sunrise, arms outstretched, with text overlay: "The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age." Lucille Ball

How to Eat Slowly and Mindfully

Here are a few things that might make it easier to slow down:

Take a breath.

One simple thing we can do is just to pause before we eat. Take one breath. Once you start eating, take a bite, then take another breath. Do this between each bite of food.

Add just one minute to mealtime.

If the idea of slowing down makes you feel anxious, try just adding one minute to your mealtime. That’s doable, right? Starting out small can help us ease into this new way of eating, and we can add time as we get more comfortable with it.

Avoid distractions while eating.

This means not watching TV, playing on our phones, or eating while we’re on the way from one place to another. This can be easier said than done, as many of us use our mealtimes to catch up on the news or watch that great new show we’ve been wanting to see.

When we do other things while we eat, though, it’s hard to pay attention to the signals our body is sending us. It’s easy to eat mindlessly because our attention is elsewhere.

Put your fork down between bites.

This is an oldie but goodie. Putting your fork down after each bite stretches out the time it takes to eat and gives your satiety signals time to kick in.

Make your meal “special.”

This isn’t feasible for every meal, but making a meal feel a little more “special” can help us slow down. Special doesn’t mean a fancy meal — it just means making it more of an event. Setting a nice table, turning on some soft music, maybe even lighting a candle or two can make any meal feel more memorable.

In last month’s newsletter, we talked about a study that showed when we listen to music while eating, it can actually help us eat more slowly. The key to using music to help us eat more slowly is to play music that has a slower tempo, around 45 beats per minute.

These are just a few suggestions for eating more slowly and mindfully. There are other things that may make it easier for you. Remember, we’re all unique, and finding what works best for us make take a little experimentation.

Try It For 30 Days

If slow eating isn’t already a habit for you, it may seem difficult at first. As coaches, when we introduce this concept to our clients, we ask them to give it 30 days. It takes time to develop new habits and become comfortable with new ways of doing things.

As we talked about earlier, eating slowly and mindfully is one of those tools in our toolbox that we can use anytime, anywhere. It can help us eat less and enjoy our food more, and help us feel better in the process.

Are you typically a faster or slower eater? How do you feel about the idea of trying to eat slowly and mindfully for 30 days? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

If you found this helpful, I’d love for you to share it!

Nicely set dinner table with sunset over the mountain in the background with text overlay: One Simple Trick to Help You Eat Less and Enjoy Food More

Source:

The Essential Guide to Food for Health, Nutrition, and Fitness Coaches, www.precisionnutrition.com

18 comments

  1. Really like this post. I am guilty of watching TV at meal times. Which I never allowed when our kids were home- we always ate at the table without electronics. Also thanks for reminding me to Sit down the fork between bites”. Tip from years ago that I ignore. Will start to do that one again.

    1. Thanks so much Sarah! I’d say many of us probably watch TV while eating. I’ve always been a slow eater – I’m sure you know that; I’m always the last one eating – but bringing more mindfulness to what I’m eating really does help me eat less. That “put your fork down” really is an oldie, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by and for your comment! Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

    1. Thanks for sharing Melinda! I didn’t know the queen chews her food at least 30 times, but I’m sure it would slow us down. You’re probably not as old as me, but when I was a kid, I remember being told that you should chew each bite 32 times. I think the number was based on the number of teeth most of us have. Thanks for the tip! Sending hugs your way!

  2. Hey Honey – as you know (an advantage of sitting next to me at meal times :o)) I’ve been trying – as you have long suggested – to be more mindful in how I eat, using just about every tool you have mentioned above to help me slow down. The two things that have helped me the most are both things you have taught me: (1) drink a glass of water before a meal and because I don’t always remembers to chew each bite 20-30 times, (2) putting my fork down for a few minutes half-way through a meal to give my tummy a moment to catch-up to my yummy meter (everything you cook is so delicious it’s easy to overeat). The first thing helps me to start out with smaller portions on my plate as my eating-eyes aren’t so big before the meal, and the second helps to keep me from going back for seconds . . . most times anyway – sometimes what you have made is just too daw-gone good to not have seconds :o)

    1. Awww….thanks Honey, and thank you for sharing what has worked best for you. Your twist on the “put your fork down between bites” seems to be working well for you. We all have to find what works best for us, don’t we? Love you!

  3. This was such an intriguing post Terri. I never thought about eating slowly and concentrating on what you’re eating. We all have a tendency to just stuff our face quickly because we are hungry but this is totally different. I guess you can say we should slow down our pace of eating, become invested in the meal in front of us and savor every bite. You are an enigma of finding the most interesting topics that deals with the betterment of our lifestyle!

    1. Thank you so much Mark! You’re so right about our natural tendency to “stuff our face quickly because we are hungry.” In this ‘fast food’ society we live in now, a lot of us eat while we’re doing other things — working, driving, watching TV, etc.. It’s so easy to eat more than we mean to when we’re not paying attention…. I’m glad you found this interesting. Stay safe and well my friend!

  4. Thank you, Terri, for the reminder. I’ve fallen into the bad habit of eating in front of my computer. I’m going to try this starting today.

    1. I’m glad the reminder helped Kathy! It’s so easy to fall into the habit of eating while we’re doing something else, isn’t it? I hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

    1. I agree VJ! I’ve always said people instinctively know what to do when it comes to so many aspects of our wellness – what and how to eat, the need to move, etc. – it’s just the doing it that’s hard. 😊 Sending hugs!

      1. I think I do the same when I’m alone. Most of the time it’s because I just don’t want to make the effort to actually fix a meal if it’s just me. Praying your sweet hubby will be back home soon. Hugs!

      2. Thanks Terri, and for your previous message which I accidentally deleted. Ugh. Hoping tomorrow is the day. He will need in home nursing care but the setting here is much more conducive to healing.

      3. Oh, that would be wonderful VJ! I really hope he can get home tomorrow where he can be in a much more restful environment (and be reunited with you). Being at home with the ones you love is great medicine. I’m glad you have the option for an in-home nurse instead of having to stay in the hospital longer. Hugs!

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