People usually try to eat less by counting calories or measuring portions. While this may work for some, it’s not a natural way of eating and can be a hassle for many.
What I mean by it not being natural is that you are regulating what you are eating by numbers and measurements, not by your internal body cues like hunger and fullness.
This is why many people find counting calories and measuring food to be a pain. Not to mention it can sometimes cause people to become obsessive about how much they are eating.
In fact, when counseling overweight children and teenagers, the reason I always recommend other methods of weight loss first is because of the great potential for counting calories to turn into an eating disorder.
If you are seeking another way, read on to learn how you can eat less and lose weight without all the numbers!
Eat Slower to Eat Less
So how do you naturally eat less and lose weight?
The answer is to eat slower and pay closer attention to your fullness cues. Research shows people who eat slower consume less food. While eating quickly is associated with weight gain. (1-6)
This strategy may sound simple, but many people are out of tune with their bodies and are not used to stopping when they are full. What’s more, most people eat way too quickly and will need a lot of practice to slow down their eating.
Here’s why you should take the time to slow down your eating:
1. You Will Feel Fuller With Less Food
Have you ever heard the tip of waiting 20 minutes before going for second helpings? That’s because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize when you are full.
The problem is most people eat so fast their meal doesn’t even last 20 minutes! Someone could finish a plate of food that was more than their body needed without even knowing it.
By slowing down your eating, you give your body time to signal to your brain that you are full. That way you don’t eat more food than you need to. Imagine all the calories you could naturally save simply by slowing down!
2. You Will Feel More Satisfied
Have you ever experienced an unsatisfying meal that left you wanting more? Feeling satisfied is an important factor for preventing overeating, and you will likely not feel very satisfied if you eat quickly.
Satisfaction is different than being full. Fullness is the feeling that your body has been nourished. Satisfaction is the feeling that your mind has been nourished.
When you slow down your eating, you give yourself time and space to savor the meal. Your senses are more aware of the smells, tastes and textures of the food. This heightened awareness leads to a more pleasurable and satisfying meal.
When you are satisfied with the food that is on your plate, you have less of an urge to keep eating past your fullness.
3. You Will Improve Digestion
Digestion is a process that starts in the mouth. The first step your body uses to break down food is your mouth salivating and your teeth chewing. If you don’t give your mouth enough time to complete this first step, you give your stomach more work to do.
Help your body have proper digestion by chewing more and giving the enzymes in your saliva time to do it’s job.
How to Purposefully Eat Slower
Ready to naturally eat less and lose weight? Here are some tips to help you mindfully slow down your eating:
- Cut food into smaller pieces
- Put your fork or spoon down between bites
- Use a smaller fork or spoon (or use chopsticks)
- Eat with your non-dominant hand
- Chew more
- Take 1 minute breaks during your meal
- Eat for at least 20-30 minutes
- Get rid of any distractions – turn off the TV and any other screens
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- Andrade A, Greene G, Melanson K. Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(7):1186-1191
- Sasaki S, Katagiri A, Tsuji T, Shimoda T, Amano K. Self-reported rate of eating correlates with body mass index in 18-y-old Japanese women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003;27(11):1405–1410.
- Angelopoulos T, Kokkinos A, Liaskos C, et al. The effect of slow spaced eating on hunger and satiety in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care 2014;2:e000013.
- Eric Robinson, Paul Aveyard, Amanda Daley, Kate Jolly, Amanda Lewis, Deborah Lycett, Suzanne Higgs, Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 97, Issue 4, April 2013, Pages 728–742.
- Leong SL, Madden C, Gray A, Waters D, Horwath C. Faster self-reported speed of eating is related to higher body mass index in a nationwide survey of middle-aged women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111(8):1192–1197.
- Otsuka R, Tamakoshi K, Yatsuya H, Murata C, Sekiya A, Wada K, Zhang HM, Matsushita K, Sugiura K, Takefuji S. et al. Eating fast leads to obesity: findings based on self-administered questionnaires among middle-aged Japanese men and women. J Epidemiol. 2006;16(3):117–124