It takes time (about 20-30 minutes worth) for your brain to realize that your stomach is full. If you wait so long between meals that you’re ravenous, you’ll eat faster, increasing the likelihood that you’ll overeat by the time that mission control gets the message.
Not surprisingly the inverse is true. People that eat slower typically consume fewer calories and are more satiated (stay full longer). The speed at which we eat impacts the various signaling mechanisms (neural, mechanical, hormonal) involved in regulating hunger. So if your 2017 goal includes weight loss, do yourself a favor and eat like you’re driving through a construction zone covered with speed cameras: go slowly and be vigilant.
Slower eating strategies:
- Don’t skip meals. Short-changing breakfast or lunch is only likely to end up in a larger dinner or more snacks throughout the day. And by the time that your willpower finally breaks down (trust us it will), you’ll not only eat faster, you may end up overcompensating for the earlier missed meals.
- Pay attention. Avoid mindless eating in front of the TV or computer. Set the DVR or pause the game and step away to the dinner table. Focusing on food for a half an hour won’t kill you.
- Hold the fork in your non-dominant hand. Using the opposite hand means less coordination, which equates to slower less efficient eating.
- Chew your food more. If you’re a speed eater, this may be one of the most effective ways to slow things down. Take 15-20 chews of each bite of food before swallowing.
- Hydrate your hunger. Stop and take a small drink of water, black coffee, unsweetened tea, or other low calorie beverage in between each bit of food. In addition to decelerating your fork speed, the extra volume in your gut helps signal the brain sooner.
- Go voluminous. Foods that are high in water, fiber, and protein like legumes, vegetables, fruits, oatmeal, eggs, Greek yogurt, and casein protein shakes are relatively low calorie and fill up a good deal of that hunger space in your stomach.
- Eat most of your calories. The rate of digestion depends in part upon the state that the food is presented in. Liquids are typically digested faster than purees, which are digested faster than solids. Think of it this way, an apple is more filling than applesauce and applesauce is more filling than apple juice. Whenever possible, eat the form that’s closest to the way that the food appears in nature.
- Don’t forget portion size. Even if all else fails and you end up eating too fast, if you’ve metered out your portion size in advance you may still be hungry, but you won’t be able to overeat.