Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gaining new habits--eating slowly

I suspect it started in college, when I'd often eat lunch between classes. Sometimes I'd get rushed, but it was usually doable. But then in my year as a copy editor we all often had to take 30-minute lunches because of deadlines. After that, it was all downhill--fast. I was firmly in the habit of eating quickly.

There are several reasons to eat more slowly. It gives your stomach time to tell your brain that you're full, which in addition to meaning you eat less also helps lessen the chance of an upset tummy. Eating slowly also lets you appreciate and enjoy what you're eating.

But knowing these things did not make my habit of scarfing any easier to break. The five things that helped the most were to:
  1. Share meals with others. Conversation is a great way to slow down speed-eating!
  2. Use chopsticks. Unless you already use chopsticks at most meals, this will slow you down considerably for a while. Especially when you try to use them on tricky things like peas. And steer clear of finger foods in general.
  3. Set the table. Make the meal a little occasion. Use cloth napkins, nice dishes, and real wine glasses. This helps make the meal something worth paying attention to.
  4. Walk away. When you've eaten what's on your plate, set a timer for 20 minutes and go do something else. Water the plants, change the sheets on the bed, clean off the desk. Whatever. Just give your stomach time to register the food you've given it, and your brain a break from thinking about food. If you're still hungry, fine. Have seconds--which I usually limit to half of a serving--and then...
  5. Clean up. Clear the table, package up leftovers and pack your lunch for the next day (always best to do when you're not hungry), and wash the dishes. Wipe down the stove. Sweep the floor. And then, again, walk away.
Also, I want to show you this video of Michael Pollan speaking on his book, In Defense of Food, for those of you who don't have time to read it (or listen, as I've been doing). The talk lasts 37 minutes with the rest being a Q&A session

1 comment:

TECH said...

Kirsten, I am so glad I asked you to join us here! Your articles have brought a lot of new ideas to my attention. Thanks! I'm looking forward to more. :)