Eating slowly

By Rama Talak in Health & Wellness
Updated 12:06 IST Jun 16, 2021

Views » 393 | 3 min read


Eating is not only about what we eat but also how we eat.  In today’s fast-moving life, it is crucial for everyone to understand the importance of eating slowly.

Eating is a routine activity for all, but what makes us (the humans) different is our specialized digestive system. The human digestive system helps in making the food available to the body in the form of energy. The process of digestion begins in the mouth. Mouth consists of three major parts: teeth, tongue, salivary glands. The primary function that takes place, is reduction of the food in smaller particles easier to digest. We have a set of 32 teeth that help us chew food. The more time we give our teeth, the finer each particle becomes. This helps the food in getting digested and metabolized better in the further process. If the food is not chewed properly there are possibilities of getting reflux post meals. Finer the particles better they get assimilated with saliva. Assimilation of food with saliva is very important. Saliva contains 2 main enzymes, salivary amylase and lipases. Salivary amylase helps in breaking down of complex carbohydrates and lipase helps in breaking down the fats.  Proper chewing reduces the oral bacteria and prevents dental carries. When food particles are left on the teeth, they promote growth of bacteria. Prolonged chewing increases the production of saliva. This helps smoother swallowing and reduces the remanent particles in mouth.

Here arises the question, how much time should one spend on eating? The answer to this would vary on the basis of the size of meal. Ideally an individual should spend minimum 20 minutes for each meal. Study from the British Medical Journal has proved, it takes 20 minutes on an average for human brain to receive the signal for satiety. Each individual is different so this duration can be slightly variable. Hunger and satiety are controlled by two hormones. Ghrelin stimulates hunger, so also known as hunger hormone and leptin stimulates satiety so the ‘satiety hormone’. These hormones need stipulated time to send signals to our brain Thus, eating fast could lead to over eating unintentionally. If we eat slowly, the brain gets sufficient time to receive hormonal responses and sense satiety. This helps us get more satisfaction. It also prevents binge eating and gives longer duration of satiety.

A small change of habit can help us prevent complex problems obesity and associated co morbidities and simple issues like burping and reflux.

Keys to changing your speed of eating:

  • Chew food 32 times.
  • While having meals there should be no distractions like tv, smart phones, newspaper.
  • Prefer sitting in dining area for having meals.
  • One should dedicate definite time frame for each meal.
  • Meal timings should not be overlapped by other chores.
  • One can use a timer or watch to maintain minimum 20-minute time.
  • Do not keep water handy as people tend to gulp food with water. This will lead to choking, nausea.
  • Take smaller portions.
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