Monday, November 16, 2009

Weight and the Speed Demon

Weight loss warriors are concerned with numbers: pounds (or kilos) lost; how long this is all taking (how many pounds per week, how many months--or even years--to reach goal); how many calories per day eaten; how many calories per day burned. It all comes down to a numbers game and to speed. Get there ASAP!!!

Well today, I'd like to slow all of this down, right where it all starts: at the plate. Everyone's thinking about WHAT they're eating--how many calories, how much food value--but have you thought about how fast you're eating?

People with weight issues and eating disorders often share one feeling: guilt. Whether on a diet or on a binge, guilt is always there. Even saying that you're "on plan" implies that the guilt of going "off plan" is lurking around the corner, ready to pounce. And since food is like a wild animal, ready to attack, we also fear it.

Now, let's do a little bit of weight math. What do guilt + fear equal? Answer: speed. Eat fast, get away from the food, hide from the enemy! Save yourself! The faster you get away from the table, the plate, or even the fast food container, the safer you will be.


While most of us are--our want to be--highly aware of caloric values (for both food and exercise) we tend to put aside the "softer" yet just as scientific fact that your brain does not register satiety immediately. In other words, you can continue to strongly feel food cravings long after your stomach has had enough. Silly brain, it's just not all that fast at sending the "all full" signal as it should be. This is a fact, a scientific fact--and it's just as important to keep in mind as the number of calories you've eaten or burned.

Our mission, therefore, is to help the brain "catch up" with the stomach and the best way to do this is to slow down your eating.

Let me be the first to admit that I, like many of you, do not like to eat slowly. Given half the chance, I would hoover down my food, especially when I'm really, truly and honestly hungry.

So here, for your benefit and mine (yes, I need to remind myself of all kinds of things every single day) are a few quick (pardon the pun) tips on slowing down your eating:

  • prepare your plate: don't take a little bit of this, go back to the fridge or the pantry and get a little bit of that, repeat, repeat--you'll only end up eating more than you want or need;
  • always put your utensils down between bites; if you're eating finger food or a sandwich, put the food back down on your plate between bites;
  • chew slowly and thoroughly; no, I won't suggest a certain number of chews--it's up to you;
  • Drink more water. There are many schools of thought as to when you should drink the water. Some say before the meal, some suggest sipping water during the meal, other say after. Choose what's best for you or what the "experts" you believe in say. I don't know. I just drink water;
  • ENJOY your food; yes, this may be hard! Eat food you like and savour it. Then, you won't feel hard done by, "on a diet", raring to get back to eating what you want once you've reached goal weight... because we know where that leads...
DON'T try to flee the table; MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR FOOD and eat it slowly!! It will be a much more enjoyable and much less fraught experience.


  1. I used to eat so fast that 30 minutes later i couldn't remember what i'd eaten! I have really started to slow down and enjoy each bite. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

  2. Great post, Wendy. Most of us in this boat are (or have been) speedy eaters. Slowing down has been one of the big components in my success, and I still don't get it right every time. But I sure see the difference when I wolf something down... I'm hungry again almost immediately afterwards.

  3. I generally eat quickly, if I'm super-hungry, I eat fast enough that I don't always digest well. I consciously stop and make myself chew more when I notice myself doing that. Generally, when I eat at home, I do prepare my plate, and that's what I eat, whether it takes me 2 minutes or 20. When I'm out, I'm either talking to someone, or sitting in a cafe reading, so I do eat slower, get full quickly. But honestly, for whatever reason, that stuff doesn't seem to matter. I don't know the numbers, but if I eat a huge lunch, I don't get hungry for dinner, so it seems to work out okay for me. Maybe not balanced, but it no longer bothers me, and it fits my life.

  4. I find that when we eat at the table, we eat slower and we eat less. On nights when we eat while watching a movie, we eat faster and we eat way more. Mindfulness!

  5. I've tried eating with no distractions (no book, music, radio or person) - just me and the food. I found I ate much slower.

  6. Maybe it depends on your mood... You can eat much when you're hungry! It's ok eating if the foods are healthy but if not -- that is now a problem!