Savoring Food—a Slimming Strategy?
September 11, 2008—The motherly advice to slow down and chew your food well is right on target. New research out of the University of Rhode Island shows that longer meal times and thorough chewing decrease the amount of food eaten and lead to greater satiation—the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal.
In the first study to look at a combined approach to slower eating—taking smaller bites, pausing between bites, and chewing thoroughly—investigators compared how much food people ate and how satiated they felt after eating meals quickly and slowly.
Slower eating means fewer calories
Thirty healthy young women took part in the new study, which was published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. On different days they were asked to eat a test meal either quickly, using a large spoon and eating as fast as comfortably possible without pausing between bites, or slowly, by taking small spoonfuls, putting the spoon down between bites, and chewing each bite 20 to 30 times.
Although the “slow” meal lasted about 21 minutes longer than the “quick” meal, the women ate less—an average of 67 fewer calories. Eating slowly also left them feeling significantly more satiated.
“The combined techniques of taking small bites, pausing between bites, and chewing thoroughly can decrease the rate of food ingestion and enhance effects of satiation, decreasing energy intake,” said the study’s authors. “Any of these factors, or synergy between them might have helped the women to consume less and feel more satiated.” The women also drank more water when eating slowly, which could have led to increased feelings of fullness.
The authors qualified their findings by saying that more research is needed to see how the results may be applied to other populations, such as men and obese people. For now, taking time to enjoy meals more slowly seems like good advice for anyone trying to eat less and lose weight.
Tips for healthy weight loss
• Enjoy meals with family or friends: Eating with others tends to discourage overeating, and sharing in conversation will naturally slow the pace of eating.
• Make your calories count: Whole grains, nuts, legumes, and vegetables bulk up the diet with healthy nutrients and pack in the fiber that helps fill you up, without added calories.
(J Am Diet Assoc 2008;108:1186–91)
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She cofounded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI. Dr. Beauchamp practices as a birth doula and lectures on topics including whole-foods nutrition, detoxification, and women’s health.
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