by The Non-Obsessive Way of Eating Company 20 February 2018
Did you know that eating quickly has been associated with a higher risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease and a range of health issues that increase the likelihood of stroke and diabetes? However, a recent study reports that by merely slowing down your eating, could result in a healthier lifestyle, help you drop unwanted pounds and avert potential lifestyle diseases.
The Japanese study published online in the journal BMJ Open, reported that “instead of gulping your food, eating more slowly” can lead to improved health outcomes. They found that slow eaters tend to have healthier lifestyles than either normal or fast-speed eaters.
This finding links strongly with the technique of Mindful Eating. Mindful Eating is characterised by a more attentive, thoughtful approach to eating. It involves consciously making food choices and appreciating the food being eaten for its quality rather than just its quantity. A strong principle of mindful eating is that of eating slowly to savour the taste, texture, subtle flavours and mouth feel of foods. In this way you naturally become a slow eater.
The study implied that slow eaters become satiated before they’ve consumed too much while fast eaters consume more food before feeling full and consume more calories than they need.
Moreover, the study suggested that skipping breakfast was not helpful to weight lose but the avoidance of after-dinner snacks and eating in the two hours before bed could help lower rates of obesity. This observation is also supported by Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre in Derby (USA), who in addition says, that by “avoiding food in the hours just before sleep suggests a more thoughtful approach to diet” as it involves some reasonable constraints.
The initial research team’s findings are based on an analysis of health insurance data on nearly 60,000 Japanese residents with diabetes, who had regular checkups, and had made insurance claims between 2008 and 2013. The checkups included weight and waist size measurements, the results of blood, urine and liver function tests, along with lifestyle questionnaires.
The study showed that more than 22,000 people routinely ate quickly, while nearly 33,500 ate at a normal speed and almost 4,200 ate more slowly. The analysis of waist measurements confirmed that, even though small, waist size was smaller among those who ate slowly or at normal speed. It showed that 42% of those who ate slowly were less likely to be obese than those who “bolted their food”, and 29% of slow eaters had smaller waists than those who ate at a normal speed.
The researchers noted, however, this did not prove that eating speed causes or prevents obesity only that it appears to be associated with it.
The take away from this is that we need to adopt an approach that includes slower, mindful eating and a true enjoyment of food. Equally however, other studies show that if you linger in front of available food too long, more of the food is often eaten – for example a plate of hot chips that is “nibbled” over time while reading this!
Check in at Towards A Non-Obsessive Way of Eating to view my opinion piece, The Weekly Short Piece, containing observations, tips and debate on nutrition, food and eating that will inform your health.