Good hydration helps maintain the balance of our body’s fluids, energizes muscles, helps our kidneys and bowels work more efficiently, and improves the appearance of the skin. And one side benefit of eating slowly is that it seems to increase water consumption during meals.
In fact, that same University of Rhode Island study compared the amount of water that the participants drank. When they ate slowly, the women drank 409 mL (about 14 oz) of water. When they ate quickly, they drank only 289 mL (9.7 oz) of water!
Results like that have sometimes led scientists to wonder if drinking more water is what helps people to feel satisfied for longer.
So the University of Rhode Island researchers put this theory to the test. (By now you’ve probably noticed that URI is really into this slow eating research.) In a variation of their lunchtime study, they controlled water intake so that participants drank the same amount of water at each sitting.
In this version of the test, whether they ate slowly or quickly, the women consumed approximately the same amount of food. And at the end of their meals, they also gave a similar appetite rating.
But an hour after the meal, those who’d eaten slowly reported less hunger and a lower desire to eat, with greater levels of satiety.
Researchers concluded that drinking more water might be key to helping us eat less during a meal.
But eating slowly seems to decrease hunger and lead to higher levels of satiety between meals.
Takeaway – eat slowly, drink more water, consume less food, and feel more satisfied! All-around win!
Is eating quickly really so bad?
Eating slowly may not be a perfect panacea for weight loss, but it will certainly help you with portion control and greater feelings of satiety.
Meanwhile, the research on eating quickly is pretty unanimous: Eating quickly promotes weight gain and makes you feel out of control of your eating habits.
Both large-scale population studies and research on smaller groups (such as fire fighters) who habitually eat quickly concur: Fast eaters gain more weight over time than slow eaters.
If weight loss or maintenance is your goal, slow down.
Disordered eating and eating speed
If you’ve ever experienced a binge episode, you’ll know the feeling — a powerful urge to get the food in there as fast as possible. Research shows that one of the hallmarks of binge eating is rapid eating speed.
People who suffer from compulsive eating often feel out of control of their eating behavior. After a binge or episode of over-eating, they feel guilty, ashamed, and regretful.
The good news is that you can often derail a binge or over-eating episode — and help yourself get back in the driver’s seat — simply by slowing down.
In fact, this is a technique we use in our coaching program: When you’re in the grip of a binge or an over-eating episode that feels overwhelming, just try to slow down as soon as you realize what’s happening.
You might not feel able to stop eating right away, and that’s OK. But most people can slow themselves down, even when the binge demons are howling.
It’s sort of like having someone call your name when you’re lost in thought and snap you out your daydream. This simple “binge slowly” strategy can often shift your attention, re-focus you, and help you regain a sense of control.
Most of us lead hectic, fast-paced lives, so it’s understandable that we might try to rush our meals. But eating quickly does us no favors.
When we eat too quickly we end up eating more than we need, which leads to poor digestion, weight gain, and lower satisfaction from eating.
Eating slowly, in contrast, makes for better digestion, easier weight maintenance – and much greater satisfaction from our meals.
Some helpful tips
- Sit down to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions. Don’t eat while driving, while watching TV, while texting, etc. Pay attention to your food.
- Choose high-fiber foods that take more time to chew, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Put down your utensils between bites. Take a moment. Breathe. If you’re eating with other people, enjoy making witty conversation for a few minutes.
- Try setting a minimum number of chews per bite. This will feel strange at first, but give it a try and see what you discover.
- Use smaller plates or different utensils (such as chopsticks).
- If you find yourself rushing, that’s OK. Put your utensils down and take a minute to re-focus. If slow eating isn’t habitual for you, this will take practice.
- Find another slow eater and pace yourselves to them. Picky little kids and chatty dinner companions who hardly stop talking long enough to take a bite are often ideal for this.
- Set aside time to eat – at least 20-30 minutes for each meal, and preferably even longer at dinner. Don’t just eat “whenever you get around to it” or treat it as an inconvenience. You’re fueling your body and maybe spending quality time with friends and family. That’s important. It deserves an appointment.
This article was published on PrecisionNutrition and written by Brian St. Pierre