How fast do you eat? Some people take things slowly and some can be speed demons. Where do you fit? The speed that we eat at can have an impact on our relationship with food. When we eat quickly or in a rushed way here are three steps to slow down your eating:
- – Physical cues of satisfaction and fullness – we can often miss the turn off to satisfaction point and drive right on down to fullness-town (not as fun as funky-town).
- – Enjoyment of eating – a big part of eating is enjoying it but if we eat too fast we don’t always have time to notice let alone enjoy.
Here are three simple strategies you can use you are a fast eating repeat offender or even if you just find yourself eating a bit quicker in certain situations.
1. Hands-free chewing
Think about what you do with your hands when you are chewing. If you are using cutlery chances are you are loading your spoon or fork to get the next mouthful ready. By simply putting down your cutlery or your food (if it’s a sandwich say) while you have food in your mouth is a powerful tool. Firstly it slows you down as it adds a second or two for every bite to pick up and reload. The second benefit is you focus on your current mouthful. When you are loading up your fork while chewing you are often already focussed on that next bite even though the last one is still in progress. So this is an act in mindfulness too.
This is an activity that does take some conscious thought as how we eat is generally on autopilot. You don’t have to do this for every mouthful but every time you feel a little rushed simply notice and try and free your hands while chewing.
2. Halve the plate
This technique is a great way to use a visual cue to slow things down:
- – When you sit down to your meal or snack visually calculate a halfway point.
- – Begin your meal and enjoy (hopefully eating with awareness) until you hit that halfway point and pause.
- – At the pause take a couple of minutes to check in with your body – mouth, tummy, and head. Notice without judgment.
- – Before starting to eat again visually calculate half of the remaining food and repeat.
- – Continue to repeat until you’ve finished your meal – whether this is a clean plate or when you hit your satisfaction point.
3. One mindful bite
This is a good strategy to use at the start of the meal to ‘set the scene’ for mindful eating. You can stick to just the one bite or repeat it a couple of times over the meal.
- – Choose one bite to bring full awareness to during a meal or snack. It could be the first, the last or any random bite you like.
- – Take a few deep breaths to focus on your body.
- – Look at the food you are about to eat – what do you notice?
- – Are there any physical sensations trying to get your attention? Scan your head, mouth and stomach.
- – Take the bite – what do you feel? what are the textures? what do you taste? how does your body react?
- – Take one breath before you reload your fork or pick up your food.
- – Continue eating and enjoy.
So for your next meal or snack how about giving one of these strategies a try? Then pop back over and let me know in the comments which strategy you used and how it went.
Want more? Download the Eat with Awareness in Four Steps worksheet to get started.