Raise your hand if you eat too fast and finish your plate in 30 seconds…
Me: *raises hand*

Being French, food is a huge part of my culture and it makes me incomparably happy, so much so that I fantasise about what I’m going to have for dinner while I’m eating lunch.

You got it, food is my favourite topic to talk about. Loving food as much as I do is OK but the problem is that I devour and shovel everything down in less than 30 seconds. Because of this, I tend to overeat, feel bloated and have to take a nap after each meal.

I knew this wasn’t good for me, so I did some research in order to find efficient ways to eat more slowly. Turns out, eating too fast can be really, really bad for your health. Therefore, I’m writing this blog for those of you who, like me, eat as fast as Speedy Gonzales.

A recent Japanese study suggests that gobbling down your food too quickly can lead to weight gain and even increase the risk of developing heart problems, so you may want to put that fork down and take a deep breath.

Three simple signs you’re eating too fast.

  • You burp a lot. Eating too fast leads to air getting in your stomach.
  • You feel uncomfortably bloated after each meal. According to LIVESTRONG, that feeling of being uncomfortably full is another side effect of excess air in your stomach, and it can make your stomach feel larger. Moreover, bigger pieces of food are in your tummy because you’re probably not chewing as thoroughly as you should.
  • You experience heartburn and/or acid reflux on a daily basis.

Health risks linked to fast eating.

Dr Takayuki Yamaji, cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan and author of the study, analysed more than 1000 participants over a period of 5 years and focused on the relationship between eating speed and the occurrence of metabolic syndrome – a combination of disorders that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes, as well as obesity.

With these come other disorders such as high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar, and low HDL cholesterol levels.

Over the 5-year follow-up period, 84 people developed metabolic syndrome. Overall, higher eating speed correlated with greater weight gain, higher blood sugar, higher levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol, and a larger waistline.

According to Takayuki Yamaji, “eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome”. So not only will you enjoy your food more, but you will also get healthier.

How to slow down:

Luckily, I found ways to successfully slow down. Changing a bad habit is a process but it’s worth making the effort.

  • Practice mindfulness. Thinking about what you’re feeling when you’re eating and how your body reacts will help you slow down. Feel your teeth grinding that food, your throat swallowing, and the food sitting in your stomach. Related article: What is mindfulness?
  • Put that fork down. Between a couple of mouthfuls, put your fork down and take your time.
  • Avoid eating in front of the TV. You’ll be eating without thinking about it, and I know that it makes me eat super fast. Sitting at the table with people and having a conversation helps to slow down.
  • Take time to chew your food. It will prevent heartburn and uncomfortable bloating.
  • Drink water regularly. Stop eating and have a sip of water regularly.
  • Don’t forget to breathe. I noticed that I wasn’t breathing properly when eating. If you take time to breathe, your eating speed will naturally slow down. You can’t swallow your food and breathe at the same time!
  • Do not eat alone. Try to sit with with someone at lunch and engage in a conversation.
  • Avoid eating with your hands. If you think about it, we usually eat fast food with our hands, that’s why we eat it that quickly.
  • Enjoy your food! Notice how good it tastes and make this last!
  • Eat with chopsticks. Using chopsticks makes you take smaller mouthfuls and slow down.
  • Exercise more. Exercising decreases the feeling of hunger and in the long run, can regulate your eating speed.

Keep in mind that it takes about 20 minutes from the moment you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness to the rest of your body. By eating slowly, you give your body more time to process the signals and feel full before you finish your plate.

Our hectic lifestyles aren’t making our eating habits better. Eating quickly at your desk or on the go isn’t really healthy. Try to have a proper meal time as often as possible, or if you really must have a quick bite that day, choose the healthy, balanced option instead of ready meals or takeaways.

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