SPEED eating is just one part of an overall fast-paced lifestyle. But this habit comes at a price and can lead to several health problems.
That was the finding from a recent Japanese study, which showed that if you eat too quickly, you'll most likely put on weight and even trigger problems with your heart.
The researchers monitored the eating habits of 642 men and 441 women and divided them into three groups depending on what they said their usual eating speed was: slow, normal, or fast.
Coming back to the group after five years, the researchers found that people who ate quickly are 11.6 per cent more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of heart disease, diabetes and stroke risk factors. The researchers also discovered that a faster eating speed was also associated with a larger waistline.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EAT TOO FAST?
Eating too fast overrides mechanisms, which tell our brains we're full. Part of the reason seems to be that the stomach doesn't have time to tell the body that it's filling up, so we end up eating more than we need to.
How? Receptors in the stomach that respond to being stretched by food and the hormones that signal to the brain can take 15 to 20 minutes to kick in.
The good news is, your speed-eating habits can be changed. So if you're breaking speed records at meals, consider these techniques to slow down:
1. DON'T BITE MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW
Mum was always right when she said "don't gobble down your food". One of the major reasons for eating too fast is not chewing long enough.
Chewing results in more favourable levels of appetite-regulating hormones that tell your brain when you've had enough.
To slow down your eating, focus on chewing your food well during each bite (a minimum of 10 times) before swallowing. Besides, chewing for longer makes you more likely to notice the flavours and texture, which makes you more aware of what (and how much) you're eating
2. SWITCH HANDS
Making things more difficult is a great way to force yourself to pay attention to what you're eating. One simple way to do this is to try eating with your non-dominant hand.
Doing so will require undivided attention to hand-mouth co-ordination, which will snap you out of autopilot or mindless eating, into eating consciously and staying more focused during mealtime. Result? You eat less and still feel satisfied.
3. PUT FOOD ON A PLATE
It may sound obvious, but eating out of a brown paper bag is not a very mindful practice. Get in the habit of placing even small snacks and desserts on a plate before you eat them. This will force you to acknowledge exactly what and how much you will be eating.
4. DITCH DISTRACTIONS
If it's hard to imagine eating lunch away from your desk or dinner not in front of the TV, challenge yourself to eat without distractions and your waistline may thank you. Put simply, eating while distracted or multi-tasking makes it harder to recall the amount of food consumed, meaning you're more likely to overeat later in the day.
Kathleen Alleaume is a nutritionist and exercise physiologist and founder of The Right Balance.