Friday, June 27, 2014

Time on the Side: New Analysis Finds That to Eat Less - Eat Slower

Photo: Flickr/thomashawk

It probably comes as no surprise, but mom was right: We really shouldn't eat so fast.

Apart from the noise and the mess and the ill-effects on dinner table conversation, wolfing down food may have ill-effects on health as well.

A detailed new analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that taking your time when you eat can substantially cut down on how much you eat.  And in today's world, where at least two thirds of the nation struggles with weight, this can have important implications.

The researchers performing the analysis combined the results from 22 separate studies looking at speed of eating and the amount of food eaten.  What they found was that those who ate their food slower ate less overall than those who ate their food faster, and apparently without feeling deprived.  Eating speed - fast or slow - had no effect on feelings of hunger, either right after a meal or three and half hours later.

We live in a society that often works against us when it comes to choosing healthy food and getting physical activity.  This can make it tough to lose weight, or even stay at the same weight. Yet, there are some simple steps we've promoted for a long time that can help with cutting back on calories and burning more calories through exercise.  Eating more slowly is one of these.  It may take some re-training of eating habits but in the end, its a pretty simple step  - just sit back, enjoy your food, and let time do the hard work.  In the end, we're likely to have eaten less - and to feel just as satisfied.

Try this and other tips to help keep weight in check: 

Choose smaller portions, and eat more slowly.  At the most basic level, eating slowly gives our stomachs time to tell our brain when we’ve had enough food.  As competitors at the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest will tell you, it takes about 8 minutes or so for the brain to register when the stomach’s full.  If you eat too quickly, you can down a plate of food, grab more, and then down that before your brain knows what hit it.  By then, you may have had twice as much food as you needed or even really wanted.  So why not slow down and enjoy your food.  You won’t even miss the extra food you’re not eating and that you didn’t even really want.

Fit physical activity and movement into your life each day.  Regular activity is one of the best ways to keep weight in check.  Choose things you enjoy that get you moving and shoot for at least 30 minutes a day.  And studies show that 60 minutes or more is even better for weight loss. 

Limit time in front of the TV and computer.  Screen time – the phrase given to time spent with our TVs, computers, phones, and tablets – is a double whammy when it comes to weight and health. Not only does it up the amount of time we spend each day in complete inactivity, but it also makes it more likely that we’ll overeat (especially unhealthy foods) while we’re sitting in front of those screens.  Shoot for under two hours of non-work screen time each day.  Less is even better.  Zero is ideal.  

Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Eating a lot of plant-based foods can help keep appetite and weight in check.  Not only are they very filling but they also keep at bay wild swings in blood sugar that make you want to eat – even if you’ve just had a big meal.  Shoot for at least 3 servings of whole grains a day, 5 serving of fruits and vegetables, and keep red meat to a minimum.

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