We all get the hunger pangs as lunchtime approaches but as so few of us have the time to go out and luxuriate over a proper meal these days, there’s a tendency to wolf down a sandwich at the desk before tackling the next round of emails. This style of eating leaves us feeling less than satisfied and more prone to snacking in the afternoon, which is hardly good for the waistline. However, we might eat more healthily by simply slowing things down a bit or as our mothers might say, “slow down, chew your food!”
Back in the 50s and 60s, when people made predictions about the future, it was thought the denizens of the 21st Century would all be living a life of leisure, with most of jobs done by computers and household chores being taken care of by machines. No such luck! People have never led busier lives and our beloved computers just take up more of our time than ever. Little wonder lunch is often a quickly gobbled sandwich at our desks and dinner tends to be whatever can be thrown together and cooked quickly when we get home from work.
Is trying to get an extra half hour’s work done to show off your dedication to the boss something worth putting your health at risk for? You, and probably your job too, will benefit from you slowing down when it comes to eating. A recent study published in the journal Appetite, claims that simply slowing down your eating at lunch can help you avoid getting the ‘munchies’ or a ‘snack attack’ in the afternoon.
Suzanne Higgs, Ph.D., of the University of Birmingham, in the U.K. has researched the effects of eating slowly. She found that whatever your lunchtime eating habits, when you chew each bite of your lunchtime meal for 30 seconds or more, you are much less likely to eat snacks later in the afternoon, than if you are throwing food down your neck like a starving Coyote. The reasoning behind this is that, slower eating helps your memory to register the food and bring it to mind later. With the food encoded in your memory you ‘know’ that you have already eaten and are not hankering for food later in the day. There are many other advantages to slow eating too:
- Fewer calories: It seem that by the act of eating more slowly, you actually take in fewer calories. This is because it takes up to 20 minutes or so for our brains to register that we have food in our bellies, especially if we’ve been anticipating our lunch and can’t wait to get something down. Fast eating means many nerve endings in your stomach, called stretch receptors, don’t have the time to recognize when you are full. When you are eating slowly your brain and belly have time to synchronize and catch up with each other.
- Extra taste: That hurried sandwich or an apple at lunch are rarely enjoyed or anticipated. It is often more like filling the tank with gas. However, when you slow down your eating you get to savor the tastes, textures and myriad flavors Even if you eat less, you’re going to enjoy your food more and this will prompt you to start preparing and ordering your food based on taste, rather than convenience. The first three bites in particular should be savored. When you are really paying attention to taste you trick yourself into believing that your stomach is fuller than it actually is.
- Better digestion: Slow eating means more enjoyable and effective digestion. When you chew your food for longer, it is digested more easily, and this is a process that starts in the mouth. The more you chew, the less work your stomach needs to do and you have less chance of suffering from digestive issues. Your body can also process food faster, absorbing vital nutrients and vitamins.
- Meditative morsels: Eating slowly and meditatively keeps you mindful of your food, and where it’s come from. Your chewing becomes a kind of mantra where you get time to think and prepare yourself for the afternoon’s work. This means you’ll be more productive and less stressed. Treat your lunch as a rebellion against a lifestyle that is making you unhappy or anxious and use your lunch hour to reconnect with people and chat between chewing. This is another great way of taking longer between bites. Taste your food and reconnect with life.
Want to get more from your food and from your diet? Get in touch with us and we can make a plan to help you get back in touch with healthy eating.