Chronic Disease

Eating Mindfully and Slowly

Meals should be enjoyable. When you start to notice and enjoy every mouthful, you will feel more satisfied at the end of the meal, even with healthy portion sizes. When you take your time to eat slowly, you give your brain more time to process that you have completed your meal and reduce the desire for second-helpings or dessert.

In our hectic, fast-paced lives, it’s understandable that a big problem is having to rush through the day. When we finally have time to get a bite to eat, we gobble it down - particularly for those who eat lunch at the office desk. But, eating quickly does us no favours. Without knowing, this habit actually leads to an unhealthy and stressful living situation. Sometimes, we feel deprived when we have just finished eating a reasonably-sized meal yet still feel hungry afterwards. This is because research shows that there’s a time lag of about 20 minutes between when your stomach fills up and when your brain gets the message that you’re full. Slowing down your meal gives your body time to recognize that you are full.

Here are some benefits of slow eating:

Weight loss

  • For many people, eating fast entails consuming more whereas eating slower increases fullness while reducing calorie intake. Therefore, the more you slow down, the fewer calories will be consumed. 

  • Also, when you feel fulfilled after a meal, you are less likely to compensate by snacking or eating a larger portion for your next meal

Better digestion

  • When we eat slower, we tend to chew our food longer too which leads to better digestion. This is because digestion begins in the mouth, so chewing slowly helps break your food down into simpler nutrients to be absorbed by cells.

Enjoy it more

  • When you eat slower and pay attention, your senses have more time to expand your consciousness of the flavour, texture and aroma of food. This way offers a better overall satisfaction which lets you finish eating sooner.

Feel better

  • As the saying goes, “you are what you eat”, it is without a doubt food can influence your mood. When you just spend twenty minutes of your time eating mindfully and slowly, you’ll be able to feel and perform better too.

Here are some practical tips to eat mindfully and slowly. Which did you practise at your last meal?

  • Sit down to eat, rather than eating while you’re standing or moving

  • Eat with a companion and have a conversation during the meal

  • Eat in a quiet environment with minimal distractions (no TV, no reading, no internet)

  • Start the meal with a drink of water and continue to take sips after every few bites

  • Put down utensils (or move the hand away from the plate if you’re eating with your hand) after every bite

We can practice mindful eating by picking up our food and noticing its colours, shape, and texture. Was it red, green, white, brown or other colours? Was it round, rectangular, long and skinny, or other shapes? Was it smooth, crispy, dry, moist, hard or other textures? Close your eyes and visualise the journey your meal went through to get to your plate. Where did it come from? How did it grow? How did it get to you? Finally, use all five senses as you eat your meal: your sight, the texture you feel as you pick it up and put it in your mouth, the aromatic smell of the food, the sound it makes when you chew it and of course, the taste!

Enjoy mindful eating!

1 June 2021