I have been receiving quite a few messages from my recent blog post, The 4-Step Recipe to Fat Loss, where I discuss my personal transformation where I was able to shed 5% body fat. I am so happy to hear that it has inspired so many of you :).
Today I wanted to dive in a bit deeper into how my eating habits have been transformed through the experience. Like I mentioned in the post, I thought I ate pretty healthy but after spending some time tracking my food I realized that although I had an idea of what I ate I didn’t really understand my portion sizes, amount of calories in certain foods, or my macronutrient breakdown. Once I had a better understanding of what I was actually eating, it became clear I was eating too many calories.
And although quality of calories matters, if you are eating too many quality calories, you can gain weight (remember the story of my Dad?). So I knew that if I wanted to shed body fat I was going to have to lower my overall caloric intake.
When people think of cutting calories they usually think restriction, hunger, deprivation, and all kinds of other negative associations. I used to think that too. Until I made the profound discovery of eating slow.
Eating slow is a natural way to tune into the wisdom of your own body that allows for you to eat the exact perfect amount of food every time.
But in order to tap into this wisdom, you absolutely have to eat slowly. You have to relax, slow down, and take your time. You need to enjoy your food by actually chewing it and tasting it.
We have all heard it a million times… eat slowly, but who ever put this into practice? Not the old me.
Growing up, at our family dinner table there was always a predictable way to how we ate. My Dad would finish his plate in like 3-5 minutes before going for round 2 of food. I would finish up in a close second place, with my Mom in third place, and my brother barely had the fork in his mouth before my Dad was ready to clean up the table. Poor John.
But I digress. Anyway, the point here is I have always ate fast and have practiced this habit my entire life. But the good news is it is never too late to change your habit. I know, because I just practiced eating slow for the last 4 months and it is something that now has become automatic. I have to think about eating slow less and less each time I sit down to eat.
Why should I care about eating slow?
Sounds pretty boring, right? The most important reason you should eat slowly (when it comes to fat loss) comes down to simple physiology.
The way our bodies tell our brains that we are full is through hormones. In our stomach there are numerous hormones that are secreted when we eat. It is these hormones that signal our brains that we’re full. It takes about 20 minutes for the hormones in our gut to tell our brains that we’re full.
What happens when we eat fast is we don’t recognize we’re full until the 20-minute mark. So if we have already inhaled our entire plate we won’t know what volume of food we actually need to feel full.
When you eat slowly, you give your body an opportunity to communicate with your brain. This will allow for you to feel when you are full, and what I have found is this happens way before I finish eating my entire plate of food.
You’ve got to try it out. It is a powerful experience, you won’t believe it at first. I sure didn’t.
But the by-product of this discovery and then forming this habit is you eat way less food but you are completely full and satisfied.
Look at all the benefits of eating slowly:
- Better Digestion
- More Enjoyment
- Increased Satisfaction
- Reduced calorie intake
- Reduction of quantity of food
- Increase in quality of food
So what tools can you put into practice today to modify your behavior?
- Get a timer. Sounds simple and maybe even silly, but it works. Nick and I use the clock on our iphone to monitor how fast we are eating. This simple practice of awareness helps us to pace ourselves.
- Tell a story. If you are talking you can’t shove food in your mouth quickly. (You can do this even if you’re alone…ha ha)
- Breathe. Once you’ve taken a few bites, put your fork down, push your plate away and take a few deep breaths. Let yourself relax.
- Chew your food. Make sure you are actually chewing and not just swallowing each bite of food. The simple act of chewing activates enzymes that assist with digestion.
Now I want to hear from you – Do you eat slowly? Is this something you practice or are naturally mindful of? What difference has it made for you? Respond in the comments below.