A new study shows that slowing down to enjoy your food and your company while eating will biologically help you eat less. And what better time to do this than the holidays when you're surrounded by great food, family, and friends?
While you may have heard that eating fast can lead to overconsumption of food and obesity, researchers from Greece and the UK set out to find the biological evidence behind this by serving 17 healthy men a generous portion of ice cream under two conditions.1 First they ate the ice cream in two servings over 5 minutes. Next, they ate the same portion size in small servings over 30 minutes. They found that while the men's perceived feelings of fullness and hunger didn't differ significantly between the two meals, when the men ate slowly they showed higher blood levels of two hormones – peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide 1 – for three hours after the meal. Both of these hormones are known to be released from the digestive tract to signal "fullness" to the brain, curbing appetite and calorie intake. Thus, slow eating = increase in release of hormones linked to appetite control.
So instead of scarfing through your food, make a conscious effort to focus on conversation and put down your fork. Pay attention to the hunger and fullness signals your brain sends to your belly. When you're at a about a 5 on the hunger-fullness scale (below), just stop. You won't feel sick and guilty for overeating and your waistline will thank you!
1Kokkinos, A. (2009). Eating slowly increases the postprandial response of the anorexigenic gut hormones, peptide yy and glucagon-like peptide-1. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Oct 29.