18 August, 2013

Slow Down, Lose Weight

The pace at which you eat is just one eating behavior that might influence your weight loss progress.

Eating behavior refers to the habits that influence the way you eat. Changing the types of food you eat makes up half of the healthy dieting equation. To lose weight, behavioral changes are also necessary.

It’s likely that you engage in a collection of eating behaviors without much thought. Eating behavior incorporates actions and thoughts toward food, like:

  • Willingness (or unwillingness) to try new things
  • Preference for soda or high-sugar juice instead of water
  • Constant snacking throughout the day
  • Serving oversized portions
  • Misunderstanding hunger cues
  • Desire to always clean your plate
  • Eating too fast

Each of these behaviors has the potential to negatively affect your health and wellness goals, and may even interrupt your weight loss process. While only one of the potential factors that may be interfering with your weight loss efforts, eating too fast is something that many people are guilty of—and it is a behavior that you can start changing today.

Eating Slowly Encourages Weight Loss

In 2010 researchers from Athens University Medical School in Greece and Imperial College in London conducted a clinical research study to determine the influence eating fast or slow might have on a person’s ability to lose weight. After giving two groups of participant’s identical snacks, they found that those who took 30 minutes to eat their ice cream became more satiated than those who ate their entire treat in just five minutes.

The difference in hunger levels wasn’t just perceived, either. The researchers took blood samples and evaluated insulin and gut hormones, and found that after taking 30 minutes to eat a snack, the hormones signaling fullness were more pronounced.

A 2008 study from the University of Rhode Island found something similar. That eating at a slow pace reduced the desire to continue eating and helped participants to feel more satisfied.

Having a reduced stomach capacity after weight loss surgery makes it even more important that you slow down your eating style. Here are a few ways you can accomplish this:

  • Set a timer and practice pacing your meals to use the entire time allotted
  • Focus on engaging in conversation with your family or friends
  • Put your fork down between bites
  • Chew food more thoroughly

Eating slower gives your body and brain a chance to communicate during the eating process. As you eat your stomach sends signals to the brain to let it know how much it’s had, and how much more will be necessary. The brain gets these signals and that is how we know to either keep eating or pack it up.

When you eat too fast, your stomach falls behind in sending these signals to the brain. By the time the brain knows we are full, we’ve already taken a few more bites. This leads to overconsumption, stomach aches and if you aren’t careful after weight loss surgery it could cause your smaller stomach pouch to stretch.

As you transition to a more traditional diet following weight loss surgery, do your best to slow down as you eat. Quickly eating your food takes away from your ability to savor and appreciate each bite, and may cause you to eat more than you intended.