mindset nutrition

Could Slowing Down Transform Your Relationship with Food?

Why Speed Matters

While you may have heard that it takes some time for your body to feel full and that slower eating is a key to better health and lower stress, do you know why?

A full stomach is only part of what causes you to feel satisfied after a meal; the brain also needs to receive signals from digestive hormones secreted by the gastrointestinal tract in order to feel full. This is a result of stretch receptors in the stomach that are activated as it fills with food or water. These receptors signal the brain directly through the vagus nerve, connecting the gut to the brainstem.

Hormonal signals are released as partially digested food enters the small intestine from the stomach. One hormone is cholecystokinin (CCK), released by the intestines in response to food. Another is leptin, produced by fat cells, which communicates with the brain about satiety, based on the body’s energy stores. Research suggests that leptin amplifies the CCK signals, to enhance the feeling of fullness. Leptin also interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain to produce a feeling of pleasure after eating. One theory is that by eating too quickly, the intricate hormonal cross-talk system does not have enough time to work.

Benefits of Slowing Down

In one study of Japanese adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it was found that those who ate more slowly were less likely to be obese than faster eaters. This research suggests that reducing eating speed may be effective in lowering BMI and associated health risks. ( https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/1/e019589)

A meta-analysis showed that faster eating speed correlated with increased chances of Metabolic Syndrome and that decreasing eating speed could be beneficial for managing metabolic syndrome. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34746200/)

How to Slow Down

Try one or two of these steps to slow down your eating. Choose things that seem relevant to you and easy for you to manage.

  • Use a timer or watch the clock to stretch your meal out to 30 minutes
  • Try chewing each mouthful anywhere from 15 to 30 times, depending on the food.
  • Take sips of water every few mouthfuls. This can help you to feel fuller, too.
  • Put your eating utensil down between each mouthful.
  • Use small plates
  • Divide your portions such that you only put a small serving size on your plate
  • Enjoy the conversation
  • Notice what else is occupying your attention while eating and focus instead on eating
  • Eat with other slow eaters
  • Cut your food into very small pieces
  • Play with your food

Small behavior changes, like getting adequate sleep, sitting down to eat a meal, setting a meal time or not eating while doing other things, instituted slowly over time can make a big difference.

Let me know which action you will take this month.


I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

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