zen habits : breathe

5 Powerful Reasons to Eat Slower

Post written by Leo Babauta.

One of the problems in our daily lives is that many of us rush through the day, with no time for anything … and when we have time to get a bite to eat, we gobble it down.

That leads to stressful, unhealthy living.

And with the simple but powerful act of eating slower, we can begin to reverse that lifestyle immediately. How hard is it? You take smaller bites, you chew each bite slower and longer, and you enjoy your meal longer.

It takes a few minutes extra each meal, and yet it can have profound effects.

You may have already heard of the Slow Food Movement, started in Italy almost two decades ago to counter the fast food movement. Everything that fast food is, Slow Food isn’t.

If you read the Slow Food Manifesto, you’ll see that it’s not just about health — it’s about a lifestyle. And whether you want to adopt that lifestyle or not, there are some reasons you should consider the simple act of eating slower:

  1. Lose weight. A growing number of studies confirm that just by eating slower, you’ll consume fewer calories — in fact, enough to lose 20 pounds a year without doing anything different or eating anything different. The reason is that it takes about 20 minutes for our brains to register that we’re full. If we eat fast, we can continue eating past the point where we’re full. If we eat slowly, we have time to realize we’re full, and stop on time. Now, I would still recommend that you eat healthier foods, but if you’re looking to lose weight, eating slowly should be a part of your new lifestyle.
  2. Enjoy your food. This reason is just as powerful, in my opinion. It’s hard to enjoy your food if it goes by too quickly. In fact, I think it’s fine to eat sinful foods, if you eat a small amount slowly. Think about it: you want to eat sinful foods (desserts, fried foods, pizza, etc.) because they taste good. But if you eat them fast, what’s the point? If you eat them slowly, you can get the same amount of great taste, but with less going into your stomach. That’s math that works for me. And that argument aside, I think you are just happier by tasting great food and enjoying it fully, by eating slowly. Make your meals a gastronomic pleasure, not a thing you do rushed, between stressful events.
  3. Better digestion. If you eat slower, you’ll chew your food better, which leads to better digestion. Digestion actually starts in the mouth, so the more work you do up there, the less you’ll have to do in your stomach. This can help lead to fewer digestive problems.
  4. Less stress. Eating slowly, and paying attention to our eating, can be a great form of mindfulness exercise. Be in the moment, rather than rushing through a meal thinking about what you need to do next. When you eat, you should eat. This kind of mindfulness, I believe, will lead to a less stressful life, and long-term happiness. Give it a try.
  5. Rebel against fast food and fast life. Our hectic, fast-paced, stressful, chaotic lives — the Fast Life — leads to eating Fast Food, and eating it quickly. This is a lifestyle that is dehumanizing us, making us unhealthy, stressed out, and unhappy. We rush through our day, doing one mindless task after another, without taking the time to live life, to enjoy life, to relate to each other, to be human. That’s not a good thing in my book. Instead, rebel against that entire lifestyle and philosophy … with the small act of eating slower. Don’t eat Fast Food. Eat at a good restaurant, or better yet, cook your own food and enjoy it fully. Taste life itself.

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