How does eating slowly help me to lose weight?

Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine
Take the time to eat your food more slowly, and focus on savoring each bite. By slowing down, you could save yourself more than 100 calories per meal. That's because about 20 minutes after you start eating, the brain receives a signal that tells you you're satisfied. It's not a matter of quantity at all. So, chew your food slowly, stop eating before you're full, and you'll easily shed unwanted pounds. Add a salad every day and an 8 ounce glass of water to your meals and you'll feel full faster, cutting back on useless calories.
Dominique Adair

After eating, it takes some time for your brain to catch up with your stomach.  The complex "telecommunications system" between brain, gut, circulating nutrients, stomach, and fat stores is very sophisticated, and studied rigorously by researchers.  What we have discovered is that it takes about 20 - 30 minutes after eating for all the "feel full" signals to be heard loud and clear.  By eating more slowly, you give your body's biology time to work.  In addition to eating slowly, we recommend that people have a portion of food at a meal, and then wait 20 - 30 minutes before deciding if seconds are needed.  If you are still hungry, return for another serving of fruit or vegetable.  Lastly, we work a lot with hunger scales in my practice -- If a "10" is REALLY full and a "1" is starving, ask yourself before having a second portion where you fall on that scale.  Eating slowly and taking a brake after plate #1 allows your body time to reach a more reliable number.

I know for me this was a big eye opener as to how unaware I had been with regard to what I ate and how much I ate prior to making healthy lifestyle changes.  As you begin to practice eating slower, notice how you begin to care more about what it is you are enjoying.  Don't be surprised if you begin to enjoy "preparing" your healthful foods even more and also if you notice using more colorful food choices.  For me, eating slowly helped me with awareness which helped me to begin building a healthier relationship with food in general.
Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics

Eating slower (about 32 chews per bite), decreases the amount of food/calories consumed when you compare chewing the same bite of food 16 times during the same amount of time.

It has been said it takes 20 minutes for the brain to realize it has had enough to eat. Often time, people anxiously eat while completing some other task (Working on a project, using the computer, or riding in the car). When you "anxiously eat", the dining experience is secondary and "mindful eating" where the focus is eating the meal is absent.

Imagine yourself chewing each bite of food 32 times and savoring the flavor and texture of it until it almost diminishes in your mouth. During your next meal, practice this chewing exercise. Over time, it can become a habit and a strategy for reduced caloric intake.

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

Before you eat, your digestive system speaks to your brain through nerve and chemical signals to increase your feelings of hunger. When you eat, your digestive system continues to carry on a dialogue with your brain, eventually leading to a sense of fullness and a termination of your meal. But unfortunately, it can take a full twenty minutes for your brain to get the message that you have eaten enough food.

Research has shown that most people with weight problems eat quicker and swallow significantly more food in the same period of time as people with normal weight. The overweight person has a tendency to eat bite after bite of food in rapid succession, easily overeating before they even begin to feel that they have had enough. Certainly, one of the simplest and most effective strategies for losing weight is to practice eating slowly and learning to savor every bite. If you can truly master the art of eating slowly and mindfully, you can dramatically decrease the size of the portions you eat and still feel wonderfully satisfied with every meal.

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It takes about twenty minutes for your stomach to send the message to your brain that it is satisfied. If you eat too quickly, your body will let you keep eating, and as a result, you will ingest more than your body needs. Your brain needs that reward, and it needs to know your body received the necessary nutrients.

When you're eating too fast, or on the go, your body and your brain don't get the reward of eating, so you never feel satisfied. Later, you crave not only food but also the time it should take to enjoy your food.
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To avoid eating too much -- and earning a bigger pants size -- try eating slowly and spending at least 30 minutes enjoying your food.

Research shows that scarfing down food as if every meal were your last actually reduces levels of key appetite-controlling hormones -- the ones that normally keep you feeling full and satisfied and tell you when to put down that fork.

In the study, lucky volunteers were served about two and a half scoops of ice cream -- twice. On one day, they wolfed down the treat in five minutes flat. Then, on another day, they lingered over the bowl for a full half hour. Blood tests showed that slow eating increased levels of two appetite-lowering chemicals (peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1) by 25 to 30% And these satisfaction hormones stayed high for the next two and a half hours.

"I'm full" hormones are released by special cells in your gastrointestinal tract. Eating stimulates them, but scientists aren't yet sure why a leisurely meal boosts output and a quick meal stunts it. And you shouldn't wait for the answer. Start harnessing your satisfaction levels now with a lazy, leisurely approach to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.