By definition, I am a fast eater. At some point growing up, I have developed the habit of consuming my food rather quickly. Now is this a good or bad thing? By all accounts from healthcare providers, dietitians and nutritionists, eating your food quickly is not something to be proud of. In fact, it seems to come with a pretty hefty cost to your health.
The first aspect that comes into play with eating too quickly is with most people, the end result of a hastily consumed meal is you are still hungry. Eating too quickly actually causes you to want to eat more food so you can feel satiated. The interesting thing about this is once food hits your pallet, it sends a signal to your digestive tract that food is on the way down. When you've eaten enough, your gut sends signals to your brain via the hormone leptin to let you know you're full. When you eat too fast, these signals get confused and do not always work correctly.
Slowing down while eating has been a best practice recommended by many major dieting companies for years. Healthcare providers know that fast consumption of food not only leads to eating too much, but it also impacts everything from allowing enough time for your digestive tract to break down food to causing acid reflux and even severe bloating.
Some studies have found a connection between eating too quickly on a regular basis and insulin resistance which can trigger weight gain, metabolic disease and even type 2 diabetes. What makes these triggers even worse is on average, much of what we consume quickly is done so on the run, in stressful conditions and primarily with fast foods, full of empty calories. This then becomes a double negative, hitting your health even harder.
It is no surprise that eating your food at warp speed is linked to a higher risk of insulin resistance. Consuming what is for most people an over abundance of high carbohydrates on a daily basis puts your blood sugar on a roller coaster that leads from extreme spikes followed by low blood sugar, even after eating. Once these types of imbalances start to trend on a regular basis, many other health risks come into play like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and many other fairly common digestive health problems.
The other aspect that affects fast eaters more commonly then blood sugar problems is poor digestion. Fast eaters often find that they are creating the perfect storm of poor digestion, bloating, gas and discomfort. Fast eaters chew their food less, take bigger bites and generally force a lot of food down some very narrow plumbing. This can also lead to constipation and in general, feeling pretty crappy, pun intended.
Fast eating can also lead to chronic inflammation of the stomach lining. This condition is called erosive gastritis and can damage the mucous lining causing symptoms such as bloating, nausea and in some cases, vomiting. As large of volume of food hits the stomach, the food takes longer to digest allowing stomach acid to negatively effect the stomach lining. If eating large amounts of food is not done regularly, your digestive tract can hand extra acid exposure from time to time. But on a daily basis and in some cases multiple times each day, you have the makings for a number of real health problems.
With so much information on the unhealthy nature of eating food too quickly, how can we slow the eating process down? Slowing down how fast we consume food is no easy matter. We are often rushed in the morning, at lunch and even dinner can fall into the rushed category while we slam food quickly to get to that next thing to do.
One of the first areas to consider is to start managing your portions, most of us eat too many calories everyday anyways, so go with smaller portions. The next aspect is to enjoy what you eat, the flavor, texture just reconnect with what you eat, give yourself at least 30 minutes at each meal. Perhaps rediscover family time at the dinner table with an open discussion of the days events. Talking while eating is a natural way to slow things down.
Don't eat in front of the TV. Studies have found this leads to not only eating too fast, but also eating too much. Be sure to thoroughly chew your foo. Proper chewing will give you more nutrients, smaller particles to pass and easier digestion. All of this will certainly help slow things down and give your body a better ability to handle the digestion process leading to healthier eating.
For most of us, life is just a series of fast paced events that lack much meaning. Put a little time into eating nutritionally whole rich foods and enjoy a slow easy pace to reconnect with your food and the people you share your meals with.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.