This article was previously published on December 2, 2017 and has been updated with new information.
There are many things related to food that are said to be good or bad for you, but you may not have thought of this one: Eating too fast can literally get you in trouble, and in a few more ways than that perhaps. the hand is. If you’re really hungry and what you’re eating is just so amazingly good – that’s a perfect recipe for eating too quickly, which can be a choking hazard, but there’s more than that to be aware of.
At least one study shows that the habit of “sliding in” one bite after another doesn’t just require you to loosen your belt; it can even increase your chances for one or more of the “big three” cardiometabolic conditions: heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, and what’s known as a “cluster” of five risk factors. Medical news today1 lists them:
- High bloodpressure
- High triglycerides (the fats in the blood)
- High fasting blood sugar
- Low Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol
- A big waist
Obesity plays directly into the hands of the metabolic syndrome, and more people than ever are developing the above risk factors. In fact, 1 in 3 American adults has metabolic syndrome, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reveals.2 Metabolic syndrome may even predate smoking as the greatest risk factor for heart disease.3
Furthermore, studies show that obesity relative to normal weight is associated with a “significantly higher” all-cause mortality.4 It’s hard to believe that eating too fast could have anything to do with those statistics, but studies show it does.
Japanese study shows ‘wolf’ food can be a killer
Cardiologist Takayuki Yamaji of the University of Hiroshima in Japan was the lead author of this study, which involved nearly 1,100 generally healthy male and female participants over a five-year period, with the average participant being about 51 years old. The subjects were divided into three groups, each of which categorized themselves as slow, normal or fast eaters.
Over the five years, 84 of the participants developed the metabolic syndrome. The result: Your cardiometabolic health can be seriously damaged if you gobble your food too quickly. In fact, it represented a two-fold greater chance of developing metabolic symptoms compared to their slower-eating cohorts, spreading a 2.3% chance for slow eaters and an 11.6% chance for the fastest.
The study concluded by saying, “Eating speed was associated with obesity and future prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Eating slowly may therefore… be a crucial lifestyle factor in preventing metabolic syndrome in Japanese.”5 The Economic Times, November 16, 2017, quoted Yamaji as saying:6
“Eating more slowly can be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome… When people eat quickly, they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Fast eating causes greater glucose fluctuations, which can lead to insulin resistance. We also believe that our study would be applicable to a U.S. population.”
Counting your chews; counting your bites
Not many people disagree that shooting food in too quickly can contribute to indigestion and can be downright painful at times. But chewing slowly aids the process from chewing to digestion, starting in your mouth.
Chewing more slowly helps your food break down faster, and saliva, which contains an enzyme called lingual lipase to help break down fats, helps (quite a bit) when you swallow. The longer you chew, the more time those enzymes have to break down your food.
The process makes digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine because digestion actually takes a lot of energy. Slowing down makes it easier for your gut to absorb the nutrients in the food you eat.
One study showed the point very well: When study participants ate almonds quickly and chewed less (10 times, instead of 25 times or 40 times per bite), scientists found that their bodies were not absorbing all the significant nutrients that almonds have to offer. † the bits just went through and were eliminated. For those who chewed the most, the particles (hence the food) were absorbed faster.7
To see if chewing more thoroughly can help you eat less, first determine how often you generally chew when you take a bite, especially something substantial, such as meat or almonds.
Also, try counting how many bites you take while eating, as participants in a study from Brigham Young University did. The participants were asked to count how many bites they ate while eating and then to reduce the number of bites by 20 to 30%. In total, the subjects lost an average of 4 pounds.8
In addition to many potential health benefits, chewing slowly and methodically — even mindfully — helps you relax better so you can enjoy your meals. Running through it to get it down so you can get on with whatever you’re doing isn’t conducive to good digestion. You can’t even really taste or enjoy the food you eat.
Chewing slower can help you eat less
Remember when you were told to chew each bite 32 times (or so) before swallowing? It helps you digest food better, they said. That is also true.
It turns out that intentionally chewing your food better than you probably already do can have more than a few lasting benefits. The recommended study indicates that obese people tend to chew and swallow more quickly, but they also don’t chew food as thoroughly compared to those who are lean. Conversely, people who eat more slowly eat less.
The claim that it takes your brain 20 to 30 minutes to realize that your stomach is already full is also true, it turns out. As Harvard Health explains, scientists will tell you that feeling full is only part of why you feel full after a meal. Your brain is also involved in the process, as it needs to receive the message sent by your digestive hormones secreted by your GI tract:9
“Stretch receptors in the stomach are activated when it fills with food or water; these signal the brain directly via the vagus nerve that connects the gut and brainstem. Hormonal signals are released when partially digested food enters the small intestine.
An example is cholecystokinin (CCK), which is released by the gut in response to food consumed during a meal. Another hormone, leptin, produced by fat cells, is an adiposity signal that communicates with the brain about long-distance needs and satiety, based on the body’s energy stores. Research suggests that leptin boosts CCK signals to enhance the feeling of fullness.
Other research suggests that leptin also interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain to produce a sense of pleasure after eating. The theory is that by eating too quickly, people may not give this intricate hormonal crosstalk system enough time to work.”
There are even studies that confirm that if you increase the number of times you chew each bite, you will end up eating almost 15% less. Over time, that could be a significant weight loss — or a significant weight gain at the other end of the scale.
Chewing as a Mindfulness Exercise
You’ve probably heard that eating to live instead of living to eat helps you be mindful of what you put in your mouth. It is meant to nourish your body. But beyond that, there are elements of gratitude.
When you become more mindful about meals, it will slow down your meal process, not just for yourself, but for others too — yes, even during the rush of holiday gatherings, travel, and too much to do in the kitchen or elsewhere. Here are a few tips inspired by Precision Nutrition:10
- Sit down at the table and minimize distractions. That means, with a wink, you can have a basket on the sideboard so guests can turn the volume down and put their phone in it for the duration of the meal. Turn off the TV, even if it is on in the next room.
- Put your cutlery down between bites. To breathe. Relax. Look at the faces around you and allow yourself to appreciate them all. When you eat alone, focus on something you are grateful for every time you take a bite.
- Enjoy the conversational art of other people. Listen. Focus on enjoying every aspect of the meal – the people sharing it with you, the taste of individual dishes, the flickering of candles, the soft tones of music in the background – anything that helps you appreciate each moment. to go will improve the experience.
- Set aside a longer amount of time for meals than you normally would; 20 or 30 minutes might be enough, and adopt a calm demeanor that can excite others even if they aren’t aware of it. Slowly make every bite a conscious act, no matter what.
Plus, if you think about it, if you’re one of the millions who go into vacations with vague (or real) anxiety, knowing that there will be temptations and pressures on all sides, just one fact can help you focus on your goals: Gaining 2 pounds a year doesn’t sound like much – until 20 years pass.
Especially during holiday meals, when thousands of people are wondering afterwards why on earth they ate so much, take a breath before you pick up your fork, and adjust your pace. You’ll feel better, so you’ll be happier, and no doubt healthier.