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Slow it Down and Enjoy Every Mouthful

Living in Italy has made us slow down in every way as life here is about enjoying every moment. Workers actually walk away from work and close down banks, stores, or other retail establishments at lunch time and take a few hours away from the hustle and bustle. When drinking their coffee, they stop and enjoy the experience of actually sipping the brown liquid.

As I've been having more time to cook and instead of wolfing down my dinner I have been sitting down and eating at the table. Therefore I thought I'd research if there any benefits to slowing down our eating. Interestingly there are and here is what I found:

  1. Better digestion - the digestion process starts as soon as we start chewing our food because the digestive enzymes from our saliva starts breaking down the food. Once food is swallowed it moves down to our gastrointestinal tract, where more enzymes break down the food. It is proven foods are easier to digest if we chew our food to make them into smaller portions. We accomplish this if we eat slower and chew our food more. What is interesting is that it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to tell our brain we are eating. Therefore if we eat to fast, we have already finished our meal before our brain gets the signal we are eating. That is the reason when we eat fast, we will feel hungry quicker. When we eat slow and have better digestion, we feel full, which prevents us from overeating or snacking.

  2. Helps us lose weight - research found that fast eaters are more likely to be obese compared to slow eaters. Hormones control our appetites and hunger. When we eat, our body suppresses ghrelin the hunger hormone, which signals our brain that we have eaten. This reduces our appetite and helps us stop eating. When we eat too fast, the signals can't reach the brain fast enough and even after having eaten a full meal, we are still hungry because ghrelin is not suppressed. The leptin (fullness hormone) isn't being released and that is why we will feel hungry even after we have eaten. Therefore we will overeat, which causes weight gain. The key is to eat slowly and allow ourselves to feel full because eating slower leads to increased fullness and lower hunger feelings.

  3. Less stress - food is meant to be enjoyed. If we are not slowing down to eat and actually tasting what we are eating, why eat? Our go, go, go lives don't allow us to take the time to eat. Therefore not only are we stressing all day but we stress at the time when we should be slowing down. Stress affects eating in two ways - reduced food intake because we forget to eat and causes us to lose weight, or stress-eating which is usually bad food and causes us to gain weight; either one is unhealthy. Therefore taking time away from our day and actually sitting down to eat a meal slowly will lesson our stress.

Tips for eating slower:

  • Chew more - experts state that we need to chew 32 times before we swallow to ensure food is the right consistency for digestion. Because digestion starts in our mouth the more we keep food in our mouth, the increased absorption of nutrients.

  • Take away distractions - when you eat, sit down and eat. Don't respond to emails, read a book, or get distracted by anything else. Focus on the food you are eating instead of all the other distractions

  • Listen to your body - don't wait until you are too hungry to eat as that will cause you to overeat. When you are hungry, your body will send you signals such as your stomach starts to growl, you feel light headed or have lack of energy. Therefore eat, and eat slowly

If we or someone else has taken the time to make delicious food for us WE need to slow down and taste every morsel. Not only that, eating slowly leads to better digestion because we chew our food better, less stress if we make it a mindful exercise and be in the moment and we can lose weight. Therefore take the time to slow it down and enjoy what you are eating.


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