I had just about done with my daily routine of a brisk walk in a park. And, I hear some noises- what is it that I hear…it was my stomach growling. Sending me hunger cues and reminding me that I should be eating something. And, yes I was so hungry that I could probably eat a horse.
I quickly walked up to the nearest café to grab some snacks so I could calm down my growling stomach. While I was awaiting my order, I started to look around the café. One of the best things to while you are alone in a café is to observe others sitting there. What do I see?
I see this young man eating at breakneck speed. Probably he was in a hurry to just grab some food and rush out to work. While he was eating a break neck speed he was also fidgeting with his phone. Ain’t we all good at multitasking of this nature? As he was eating he also managed to engage himself in few calls. If he could do that to me it came across as he wasn’t in such a hurry as it seemed! Then I thought to myself why would somebody be eating at such a speed? Probably, just a habit I thought to myself!
This is true though. There are many people whom I know have developed these fast eating habits. They are most often in a hurry to get over and done with their food to get away from the table. Most often one develops these habits during childhood and it continues through your adulthood.
But, let me tell you that gobbling down the food quickly without realizing what just went in, does no good to your body. In fact, eating too fast could nearly double your risk of being overweight or obese. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows that women aged 40-50 years who eat the quickest are more likely to be obese than slow eaters.
Once you start eating, it takes about 20 minutes for the “stop eating” signal to reach your brain. Fast eating overrides the mechanism of stimulating the satiety center in the brain. Thus, if you eat too quickly or say within 20 minutes, you tend to overfill your stomach and overeat, paving way for overweight and obesity and other related disorders.
Rather than thinking about food in terms of number of calories and nutrients, it would be more beneficial if you eat it mindfully. Eating slowly, chewing the food thoroughly, and savoring every bite of it are some important aspects of Mindful eating which contribute to your health in several ways.
Digestion: chewing well promotes the release of salivary enzymes in the mouth which in turn start off the digestion process, thus making your further digestion smoother and simple. Hence it is said that slower you eat, the faster and more efficiently you metabolize the food.
Portion control leading to weight control: Portion control is easily achieved when you slowdown your pace of eating. When you eat slowly you become aware of when you stomach gets full and you also know how much to serve yourself and when to stop. Portion size and eating speed can be well explained through the famous ‘French Paradox’ which says that despite high intake of calorie rich and fatty foods in France as compared to the US, the incidence of heart disease and overweight is relatively low in France. It is well documented fact that the French eat much slower than the Americans thus ending up taking smaller portions. Sensible eating therefore works miraculously for the weight-watchers.
Taste and Enjoying: Eating sensibly also involves relishing your food thoroughly by feeling the flavour on your palate. Sensible eating lets you experience the textures and the aroma of the food overall, making it a wonderful experience focused more on the impression and less on the health effects of eating.
In an age which is clouded by distractions, sensible or mindful eating gets difficult for many. It requires a conscious effort on an individual’s part to make sure that he or she is eating in an environment which is less distractive. To enable yourself eat mindfully, ensure that you are away from the television, mobile phones and other devices so that the focus is completely drawn towards eating. You can have some soft music playing in the background to make the eating experience more delightful.
When you eat, JUST EAT! Be mindful and Stay Healthy.