‘Eat slowly, the most important thing to start with? Really??’

This is what you may be thinking, but slow eating does some pretty important things:


Slow eating creates mindfulness. Mindfulness creates awareness.

People may eat poorly simply because they’re unaware of how to eat well physically as well as practically and not be able to tune into what poor (or good) eating feels like, or how their body responds to different food choices.

Awareness is a one-way street. Once you’re aware, you can’t go back to unaware unless you really try hard to be unaware, but then that will make you more aware. Anyway…

Those who want to manage weight almost always rely on external measures such as calorie counting, eliminating certain foods or follow a strict plan. These normally fail in the long run because who wants to cook a ‘must have’ meal or weigh each ingredient when you’ve just got in from work  1 hour late, been told by your boss your report is wrong and you have a headache?

However, when you get the hang of slow eating and other body cues that we will work on, you’ll enjoy your food far more, become aware of when you’ve had enough, and do it all the time rather than circumstantially forgetting to log last night’s binge on myfitnesspal.

Over-eating when you are actively eating slowly is not fun. In fact is quite hard. Typically you over-eat because you are wolfing it down and not giving your body the chance to tell you ‘enough now’. Even when this message does arise, it is often ignored. This is far less likely to happen when you eat slowly and pay attention to your food.

Slow eating attunes you to the flavours, textures, and smells of your food.

You become more aware of food quality.

Junk food doesn’t taste too good when you eat it slowly and the texture isn’t very pleasant either. Depending on what you are eating you can also feel a thin layer of fat around your mouth.

Real food, on the other hand, often tastes much better.

If you think about the majority of fast food outlets you’ll notice that the food is soft and very easy to eat. In particular, easy to eat ‘quickly’. There are a few reasons for this. First, these outlets primary objective is to make money. Fast! They want you in and out as quickly as possible so they can severe more people and sell more food. Fast Food, fast money. Second, they also want you to eat lots of food, and to make you do that they make it full of sugar, salt, and fat in just the right ratios, soft, easy to chew, and swallow. Normally within a few chews so that you eat so quickly you don’t realise you are full. Fast Food, Fast Money, Fast Eating!

Once you have perfected eating slowly you’ll instinctively begin to seek out better choices, simply because of increased awareness.

Slow eating provides important information to the GI tract and gives satiety hormones time to kick in.

Conscious olfaction (the action or capacity of smelling), chewing, tasting, and swallowing gives essential information to the whole gastrointestinal system.

For example, retronasal olfaction (the smell that wafts up into our nasal passages via the back of our throat when we chew) is a key component of satiety. This can be why your sense of taste and subsequently your fullness can be affected when you have a cold and can’t taste your food.

If we rush, we don’t smell, taste, or texturally experience our food. We don’t realise the grub getting shoved into the pipeline until it’s too late.

However, when we eat slowly, our satiety hormones, particularly ghrelin, have time to work. So you’ll stop eating naturally, earlier.

Slow eating helps with digestion.

The step-by-step information processing also helps with cueing digestive activity such as peristalsis (wave-like movements that push food through the intestines) or enzyme secretion further downstream. Our GI tract doesn’t get caught off guard.

On a side, some people may have heard that drinking water, or other liquids, while eating can dilute digestive enzymes causing a reduction of nutrient uptake in the digestive tract. This is incorrect and please click here if you’d like to read a controlled scientific study on the subject. In fact, drinking water while eating can help the digestion process AND help you slow down your eating between mouthfuls.

Slow eating doesn’t depend on what is eaten and when.

This means you can do it, any time, any place, anywhere, and with anything! Whether on a client dinner,  Mother’s Day brunch, a wedding buffet, or eating Domino’s.

No matter what is on your plate or who is around you, you can eat slowly. You’ll almost always eat less without restricting or depriving yourself.

This also goes for any ‘over eating’ episode such as one that is emotionally driven. This type of eating is typically done quickly. Emotional eating will be covered further on down the line.

Slow eating makes you 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 elevating any feelings of anxiousness these factors can cause such as the ‘I can’t eat that, I don’t know how many grammes of slow digesting carbs are in it’.

Learning to relinquish external dietary control ultimately gives you real control and the self-confidence around what you eat.

Mindfulness of how you are eating is the path to successfully mastering this task.

How to do it.

It might sound silly but if you’re not used to eating slowly you might find it difficult at first or forget altogether.  Here are some helpful tips you can use.

  • Tell people.

Ok, not everyone. Your new client doesn’t have to know on your intro lunch but your partner, flatmate or kids might. This is because social sup[port on any endeavor always helps and they will be able to remind you should you forget. You also have more chance of success if you rope them into it too. If you live with your family get them all involved because you won’t meet anyone that hasn’t benefited of eating more slowly. If you live alone, add calendar reminders around your dinner times to help you remember.

  • Gamify it.

You could play a game, either by yourself or with the family, the last one to finish their dinner wins! The prize could be that the winner doesn’t have to wash up. However, If you live alone, this won’t work. Plus, you’ll win every game anyway. If playing with children be careful as some might take it to the extreme and seriously test your patience so profile your kids before trying this with them.

  • Set a timer if needed — start with 15 minutes per meal as a basic goal. Work up to 20 or even 30.
  • Chew a few more times than you think you need to.
  • Put down your cutlery between each mouthful. Relax. Breathe. Take a few extra moments before you pick the knife and fork up again.
  • Take a rest midway through your meal for a minute or two.
  • Actually spend time thinking about the flavours, textures, and smells of your food.
  • Avoid distractions when you eat.

Watching TV, using your phone, or working while eating can often cause not only fast-eating but meal disruption too such as seeing an email come in you feel compelled to reply to. Conversation is different. With some, mealtime is the only time of the day you get to talk to your family if at all.

  • Set lunchtime entries in your calendar.

Make time to eat by blocking out at least half an hour or more if it includes going to buy it and take into consideration cueing. If you buy your lunch daily while at work or out and about, you can beat the cue by getting it in the morning. This won’t normally work in coffee shops because they don’t normally have their lunch items out until 10;30/11. This also helps with food choices. You’ll find that what you purchase when you are ‘starving’ is typically less healthy than when you purchase food when you aren’t. This also goes for your grocery shopping.

  • Set a timer if needed — start with 15 minutes per meal as a basic goal. Work up to 20 or 30 when possible for actual eating time.
  • Sit!

Avoid eating standing up. You’ll most probably eat faster and less than you should (those looking to lose weight please unread that). Grabbing from a plate and eating standing up when getting the kids ready for school or in a sandwich shop or cafe, will probably win the ‘least amount of awareness award’. So as above, make time for you and your food.

What to do now?

In the app will be a reminder every day at 6 pm to track this habit. You can add notes if you wish.

If you find yourself forgetting to eat slower, set reminders in your phone, or write it on the back of your hand. You might want to think of a code word to avoid any unnecessary looks or conversations from people. May be ‘cow’ because they chew all day. However, this might cause the same response. Anyway moving on….

Do it. Just like with all of the tasks you will be given, start them right now. Spend a few moments to really think about how you will carry out the task and how you’ll remember.

What’s next?

Your next task builds on this tool by helping you become more body and mentally aware of identifying the difference between hunger and appetite.