The Secret to Staying Young...

Eat slowly?

Where’s the super secret nutrition tip that will magically burn fat and turn back the hands of time? This is too easy!

WAIT... before you go... hear me out on this one! 

My entire adult life (until I became aware and made this change) I've scarfed down my food. Like seriously! I ate embarrassingly fast. The hungrier I was, the faster I ate. 

How I adopted this unattractive habit I'm unsure; but, I'm most confident it was during my time in basic training. I remember being yelled at over and over: "eat faster Eaton"! By the time my training was over, I was a pro. I could shove down an entire plate of food in less than five minutes. When my mother picked me up from basic training, we stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way home from the airport. I distinctly remember her staring at me, most likely in disgust, as I passionately crammed food into my mouth.

From that point on, food was always something that I did quickly, usually while multi-tasking. Eating breakfast in the car on the way to work. Eating lunch at my desk while answering email. Eating dinner in front of the T.V. 

It wasn't until I really dove into nutrition coaching that I fully understood the importance of slowing down, enjoying my food and being aware and in the moment. 

Why slow eating? 

Slow eating does some important things:

Slow eating creates mindfulness. Mindfulness creates awareness.

Many people eat poorly simply because they’re unaware — of how to eat well, of what poor (or good) eating feels like, of how their body responds to different food choices.

Most of my clients who want to eat less (in order to lose fat) almost always rely on external measures such as calorie counting, “points,” or eating strict portions. Of course, these usually fail in the long run.

Been there, done that, right?!

But, when I challenge my clients to adopt the habit of slow eating and listening to and acknowledging body cues, they become aware of when they’ve over-eaten. No points to track, no calories to count.

Slow eating attunes you to flavors, textures, and smells of food.

You become more aware of holistic food quality. Junk food tastes like crap when you eat it slowly. It’s disappointing — even downright disgusting. And, your body doesn't recognize it... nor, know what to do with it once it enters our digestion system. Real food, on the other hand, often tastes even better, sweeter. 

Slowly, what begins to happen intuitively is that WE seek out better choices, simply because of increased awareness.

Slow eating also sends important information to the GI tract and gives satiety hormones time to kick in. Smelling, chewing, tasting and swallowing gives essential data to the whole gastrointestinal system. For instance, the smell that wafts up into our nasal passages via the back of our throat when we chew is a key component of satiety.

If we rush, we don’t smell, taste, or texturally experience our food. In a sense, our bodies don’t notice stuff getting shoved into the pipeline until it’s too late. Have you ever scarfed down a meal and not felt satisfied... simply left reaching for more food to reach satiation? Now you know why! When we eat slowly, our satiety hormones have time to work. You stop eating naturally, earlier.

Slow eating helps with digestion. 

The step-by-step information processing also helps with cueing digestive activity. Our GI tract doesn’t get caught off guard. So you feel better after you eat. (No Tums needed... you're welcome!)

The #1 Success Key for me: Slow eating doesn’t depend on controlling what you eat.

This means you can do it anywhere, any time, with any kind of food — whether that’s a Mother’s Day brunch, a business lunch, dinner at Grandma’s, a Vegas buffet, or S’Mores around a campfire. No matter what’s on your plate or who’s around you, you can eat slowly.

This is key is developing lifelong solutions that WORK for you. So that you can “keep it real” and not feel restricted or deprived, while still making mindful choices. In effect, slow eating makes YOUR body the boss.

This means eventually YOU won’t have to rely on calorie counting, weighing and measuring food, or any other means of external control. You’ll feel much less anxious, and much more self-assured whenever you are around food. 

Just be aware… you may notice things like:

*You don’t love your favorite junk foods as much as you did. (Be prepared for some grief and loss.)

*You are rushing and stressed much of the time. (Be prepared to discuss this in a later lesson.)

*It’s hard to be alone and quiet with yourself. (hint... this is why we are always glued to social media!)

So... how do you get started? Check out these tips! 

• Put your fork down between bites.
• Relax. 
• Breathe. 
• Take a few extra moments before you pick the fork up again.
• Set a timer if needed — start with 15 minutes per meal as a basic goal. Work up to 20 or even (gasp) 30.
• Chew a few more times than you think you need to.
• Enjoy and savor each bite. 
• If you’re eating something delicious, take pleasure in it. Notice smells, flavors, and textures.
• Eat mindfully without distractions such as TV, smartphones, or the computer. (Pleasant conversation with friends and family is, of course, welcome.)

So, let's hear it! Comment below with how long it takes you to consume your evening meal... or, breakfast meal (hopefully you aren't consuming this meal in the car, on your way to work...)

Happy Trails!