Why eating slow burns calories and fights off metabolic syndrome

My mom and I are so similar it’s almost scary. We like the same foods, clothes, movies, books, politicians. We share a lot of the same hobbies and mannerisms. We’re a true testament to the power of genes.

But there’s at least one area where my mom and I are opposites — how we eat.

My mom takes her time. She cuts her food finely. Shifts it around on her plate. Chews it thoroughly. And she’s always the last person left eating at a communal meal.

I get straight to business. I cut swiftly. Chew just enough. And make quick work of every meal I eat.

Now, I don’t go out of my way to be a quick eater. My mom doesn’t go out of her way to be a slow eater. It’s just what comes naturally to us. Unfortunately for me, my mom’s natural eating style comes with bigger benefits than mine.

Research shows slow eating does at least four fantastic things for your health…

Why slow eating is sooo much better than fast eating

Research keeps proving that slow eating is far superior to fast eating. Case in point?

A 2011 study found that slow eaters gain less weight than fast eaters. And slow eaters are also 35 percent less likely to get metabolic syndrome than fast eaters, according to a 2015 study.

Why?

Well, there are a lot of potential reasons slow eating is healthier. First off, slow eaters tend to pay closer attention to feeling full and eat less. But a lot of the benefits may come from chewing more…

A 2014 study found that chewing your food until all the lumps are gone helps you burn 10 extra calories for every 300-calorie meal. In fact, researchers found that chewing more could help you cut an extra 2,000 calories per month. It’s not going to land you a winning spot on The Biggest Loser, but I’ll take it.

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Helps Your Body Maintain Optimum Immune Balance!

Another benefit of chewing your food? The longer your food is in your mouth, the longer it’s exposed to digestive enzymes in your saliva. Chewing more also boosts blood flow to your stomach and gut, which helps with digestion.

Now, a 2011 study found that obese people chew their food less. But guess what happened when researchers asked them to chew every bit 40 times? They ate less… which means slow eating could curb overeating and even fight obesity.

Switching your eating style

Slow eating sounds simple enough. But if you’re a lifetime fast eater like me, changing your ways may be harder than it sounds. Luckily, there are some tips you can try to make it easier, like:

  • Eating without distractions. A lot of us like to be entertained while we eat. We watch TV, read a book or magazine, scroll through news or social media feeds on our phones. But distracted eating makes us more likely to fall back into our fast-eating ways. Next time you eat, cut out distractions and focus on the meal in front of you.
  • Chewing more. Chewing more can help you slow down your eating pace. Plus, it has all those health benefits I mentioned earlier. Set a chew goal for each meal that’s around 20 to 40 chews per bite.
  • Share meals with a slow eater and follow their lead. Here’s a good practice for me: eat more meals with my mom and match her pace. If there’s a slow eater in your life, you can do the same thing. Let them set the meal pace and follow their lead.
  • Drink more water with meals. Having a full glass of water handy with your meals not only keeps you hydrated, it also slows down your eating pace. Take a sip or two after every bite. As a bonus, water will make you fuller, so you’ll eat even less.

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Sources:

  1. Why Slow Eaters May Burn More CaloriesTime
  2. Association Between Eating Speed and Metabolic Syndrome in a Three-Year Population-Based Cohort StudyJournal of Epidemiology
  3. Retrospective longitudinal study on the relationship between 8-year weight change and current eating speedAppetite
  4. The number of chews and meal duration affect diet‐induced thermogenesis and splanchnic circulationObesity
  5. Improvement in chewing activity reduces energy intake in one meal and modulates plasma gut hormone concentrations in obese and lean young Chinese menThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  6. I Spent 2 Weeks Trying to Eat More Slowly — Here’s How It Went — Cooking Light

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.