How to Slow the Hell Down While You’re Eating (and Why You Should)

How to Slow the Hell Down While You’re Eating (and Why You Should)
Photo: Johnstocker Production, Shutterstock

Have you ever leaned back in your chair after finishing your lunch with a friend, only to realise their lunch has just begun? Now what you are you supposed to do while they eat at a so-called “normal” pace–twiddle your thumbs?

I get it. Americans love to glorify our on-the-go, never-stop-grinding way of life. Taking the time to fully appreciate your meal? Sounds like European nonsense to me. (Kidding). (But please don’t try to convince me to eat dinner at 10 p.m.).

As a self-diagnosed “fast eater,” there are plenty of reasons why I want to slow the hell down, none of which are necessarily motivated by weight loss. A number of sources like Healthline and Psychology Today claim that taking your time to eat may improve your digestion, help you better absorb nutrients, and generally increase how much you enjoy your food.

Outside of health benefits, my desire to slow down while I’m eating is socially driven. When I come up for air between each bite, I find I can participate more in conversation (without, you know, exposing my friends to a mouth full of hummus). Likewise, not racing furiously through lunch also means I have the focus to be a more active listener while we eat. Food brings us together; I want to savour both what’s on my plate and the people I’m with.

So, if you too want to eat more slowly, here are some strategies to take it easy.

Focus on chewing

It seems obvious, but fast chewing is the main culprit behind fast eating. While I think the pervasive advice to count every single bite is entirely too strict (and even unhealthy), you can still be intentional about your overall chewing speed. My top tip is to check that you’re actually swallowing each bite before you move onto the next.

Set your utensils down

Put down your fork and do something else with your hands a few times during your meal. Even if it’s just for a moment, this will help you take more time with the bite you’re on.

Drink water

Hydration is good! And this is another strategy to make sure you’re at least taking a little time between each bite.

Turn off your screens

Sometimes I look up from my phone and discover that my meal is long gone, even though I barely remember a single bite. Such is the power of TikTok. Try to avoid electronic devices, such as television and smartphones, while eating. You might even try to…practice mindful eating.

Practice mindful eating

Make your mealtimes distraction-free and take advantage of the time to practice mindfulness. Simply setting the intention at the beginning of your meal can help you start to eat slower.

Listen to slow music

Are you telling me you’re about speed-eat while Adele pours her heart out? Get a grip.

Avoid extreme hunger

It’s natural to wolf down your food when you let yourself get hangry. The science of satiety is complicated, but a good strategy to avoid extreme hunger is to focus on eating foods that make you full and happy in general.

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