One of the most important benefits of eating slowly is that it gives your body time to recognize that you’re full.
It takes about twenty minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to send out signals of satiety. Most people’s meals don’t even last that long!
Imagine the extra calories you could ingest simply because you didn’t allow your body time to register that it no longer required food. Now imagine the effect of those extra calories on your weight.
Eating slowly also helps us feel more satisfied — which is different than just being “full”.
When you slow down, savor a meal, pay attention to tastes and textures, and appreciate each mindful bite, you leave the table feeling good in your soul… even if all you ate was a baloney sandwich.
Eating slowly also helps our digestion.
Think of digestion as a chain reaction. As soon as we see, smell, or think about food (step 1), we start salivating to prepare for putting that food in our mouth (step 2). Saliva contains enzymes that break the food down, and moistens the mouth for easier swallowing.
Meanwhile, digestive steps 3, 4, 5 etc. have to get ready to go to work. Our stomachs start to secrete more acid. Our small intestine starts to get ready for some peristalsis. And so forth.
If we rush this process, we force our GI tract to deal with stuff before it’s fully prepared. Surprises are great on birthdays, not so great during digestion.
At the University of Rhode Island, researchers examined how eating speed affected the early stages of digestive processing by observing 60 young adults eat a meal.
Smaller portions – without trying
Most of the research on this topic suggests that eating slowly helps you to eat less. That’s especially useful information if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight.
In another University of Rhode Island study, researchers served lunch on two different occasions to 30 normal-weight women. The meal in both cases consisted of an enormous plate of pasta with a tomato-vegetable sauce and some Parmesan cheese, along with a glass of water.
At each visit, researchers instructed the women to eat to the point of comfortable fullness. But during one visit, they also told them to to eat as quickly as possible, while on the other visit, participants were asked to eat slowly and to put down their utensils between bites.