First, ask yourself this: are you a fast, moderate or slow eater? Have you ever noticed your eating speed? Are you a slow eater with other people around and forget to chew when you are by yourself? Does eating allow you to “check out”?
These questions can provide some great insight into your relationship with food, your digestive health and even your body composition. Speed eating may explain why you experience bloating, feel blocked up or why you can’t shift those pesky pounds.
Why slow down?
CHECK IN, NOT OUT
For many of us, we eat to “check out”. You may understand what I mean if you have ever consumed a large amount of food in a very short time and then realised that you didn’t taste anything, have any recollection of how much you were eating or even how you ended up with the food in the first place!
Many of us turn to food as a way to remove ourselves from a situation or feeling. It can be an escape mechanism to cope with stress, a bad day, negative or even positive emotions or simply a way to feel good.
FOOD IS GOOD!
Why rush something that you enjoy? Food should be delicious, enjoyable and long lasting! After all, it’s how we nourish our bodies and are able to live a healthy and fulfilling life. No matter what you’re eating, it’s important to slow down and enjoy it. Get what you need out of it! If you’re eating to reduce stress, slow down and focus on calming the body and bring your attention to your breath so that you can get the outcome you want and find calm. In many cultures, food is seen as a way to bring people together, celebrate events and traditions and to have fun. In parts of Europe, it’s normal for meals to take place over several hours, but with a focus on whole foods and social interaction, it leads to slow fulfilment, not overconsumption.
Whether you are enjoying a meal by yourself or with others, make a conscious choice to savour it. Notice how the food tastes, present it in on a beautiful plate or bowl and make it last!
KICK START DIGESTION
You may have heard the saying that “digestion begins in the mouth” and this is very true! We have both mechanical and chemical digestion that starts before you swallow a mouthful. Chewing, or mastication, is the mechanical breakdown of food into smaller pieces that can be more easily digested in future stages. The production of saliva is also very important and will facilitate the breakdown of starches in your food, as well as providing the right pH for these enzymes to do their work. When we inhale food without taking the appropriate time to chew and allow our saliva to do its job, we miss out on a critical stage in this complex process. The result: larger food particles in the stomach and intestines that take longer to break down (with possibly less nutrients absorbed) and the associated symptoms of bloating, gas, abdominal pain and diarrhoea or constipation.
Slowing down, chewing, and taking the time to taste and enjoy our food will not only provide a better experience, but it will help you to become more aware of the foods that you are eating, the reasons for selecting these foods and how they impact your body. Speed eating can be a way of distracting us from our emotions or stress, rather than the nourishing and life-giving experience that it should be.
For me, I know that when I’m under emotional or physical stress, I am much more likely to order another double espresso or find myself finishing off a block of chocolate with no awareness at all. If you are able to slow down and check in, you will at least be able to recognise that there is a reason why you might be searching for a hit of sugar, caffeine or food-based distraction. Not only will slowing down improve your self-awareness in times of stress, it will also allow you to tune into YOUR body and start to identify which foods might be making you feel lethargic, irritable, bloated or absolutely fantastic!
What do you think? Have you noticed if you’re a speed eater? I'd love to hear your experiences below.