How to Easily Cut Your Calories: Eat Slowly

by Dr. Mercola

chewingFor ages, mothers have admonished children to slow down and chew their food. It turns out they’re onto something.

Researchers have found evidence that when people wolf their food, they end up consuming more calories than they would at a slower pace. One reason is the effect of quicker ingestion on hormones.

In one recent study, scientists found that when a group of subjects were given an identical serving of ice cream on different occasions, they released more hormones that made them feel full when they ate it in 30 minutes instead of 5.

In other words, it can’t hurt to slow down and savor your meals.

Source:  New York Times February 22, 2010


Yes, it’s true. Taking your time when eating and chewing your food well has a number of beneficial side effects.

For example, chewing your food twice as long as you normally would will instantly help you control your portion sizes, which naturally decreases calorie consumption.

Another benefit of chewing longer is that your food is digested better. The majority of your digestive enzymes are actually in your mouth, not in your stomach. Therefore, chewing your food longer allows it to be broken down better.

You’re also likely to find that you actually enjoy the taste of the food more.

Studies Confirm Mom’s Advice is Right on the Money

As reported by the New York Times, there are a number of studies confirming the wisdom to chew your food well.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism last year found that subjects given identical servings of ice cream on different occasions released more hunger-regulating hormones when they ate it in 30 minutes instead of five. So although the serving size remained the same, they felt fuller after savoring the ice cream compared to when they wolfed it down.

In another study from 2008, subjects also reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly. Interestingly, they also ended up consuming about 10 percent fewer calories when they ate at a slow pace as opposed to when they were rushing.

A third study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that eating quickly, and eating until feeling full, tripled subjects’ risk of being overweight. The authors concluded:

“Eating until full and eating quickly are associated with being overweight in Japanese men and women, and these eating behaviors combined may have a substantial impact on being overweight.”

Clearly, portion size is one of the factors, especially in the US, that contributes to the obesity epidemic. But cutting down on your portion size can be tough for some people. Slowing down, chewing your food at least twice as long as you normally would, and enjoying each meal is a very simple way to cut down on portion size, calories, and excess weight.

Actually, eating smaller meals more frequently will in and of itself help burn more calories because it tends to boost your metabolism.

Additional Eating Guidelines for a Healthy Weight

In addition to properly chewing your food, eating the right foods for your nutritional type is essential for optimal health and weight.

Remember, foods that are healthy for others may not necessarily agree with your personal body chemistry and metabolism, and vice-versa. A healthy diet is highly individual, but there are general guidelines based on your general “type.”

If you’ve never looked into nutritional typing, you can start by taking my free online nutritional typing test. If you take your time answering the questions to the best of your ability, it will give you a general idea of what type you might be, so you can start experimenting with the appropriate foods to fine-tune your ideal diet.

The Best Way to Cut Excess Calories from Your Diet!

Cutting calories by eating slower will have little impact unless you also pay attention to the single largest source of calories in the typical American diet, namely fructose!

While chewing slowly will increase the release of some satiety-inducing hormones, ingesting fructose will clearly counteract this benefit.

Fructose diminishes your feelings of fullness because it does not stimulate a rise in leptin, one of the most powerful hunger- and fat storage regulators in your body. Fructose also reduces the amount of leptin crossing your blood-brain barrier by raising triglycerides.

Leptin resistance, in turn, is perhaps one of the most significant factors underlying human disease. For example, it plays a significant if not primary role in the development heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, reproductive disorders, and perhaps the rate of aging itself.

Additionally, whereas glucose suppresses ghrelin (also known as “the hunger hormone,” which makes you want more food), fructose, again, does not.

Fructose also increases your insulin levels, interfering with the communication between leptin and your hypothalamus, so your pleasure signals aren’t extinguished. Your brain keeps sensing that you’re starving, and prompts you to eat more.

As you can see, consuming fructose suppresses feelings of satiety in several ways, which eventually will have serious consequences for your weight and overall health.

As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.

However, for most people it would actually be wise to limit your fruit fructose to 15 grams or less, as it is virtually guaranteed that you will consume “hidden” sources of fructose from just about any processed food you might eat.

That said, avoiding as many processed foods as possible should be at the top of your list. For example, just ONE can of soda contains about 40 grams of high fructose corn syrup, which is already well over any kind of healthy limit!

Reducing your fructose consumption also includes carefully measuring your fruit intake to make certain that you’re not inadvertently consuming too much fructose.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, slowing down during meals is something to strive for, if for no other reason than to reduce stress.

There’s plenty of evidence showing the importance meal time plays in regulating your overall stress levels. And rushing while eating is a surefire way to decrease your overall level of health. Marc David, an expert in the psychology of eating, talks about the important role stress plays in digestion in this previous article.

So relax, chew slowly, and enjoy – savor everything you put in your mouth.


Related Links:

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Becki Baumgartner

Herbalist, Certified Tennessee Naturalist, Certified Reiki Master at
Becki Baumgartner is a certified member of the Academy of Integrated Health & Medicine. Becki graduated from Clayton College in 2011 with a BS in Natural Health, Minor in Herbology, obtained her Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Certification in 2012, and her Tennessee Naturalist Certification in 2013. She is currently enrolled in the Master Herbalist Program at the Academy of Natural Health Sciences. She has been a Lead Investigator for Volunteer State Paranormal Research since 2010 and in 2012 joined Natchez Trace Veterinary Services, an Alternative Medicine Veterinary Clinic, as Practice Manager and Herbalist. She is also a volunteer naturalist for Metro Parks and the Nashville Medical Reserve Corps, facilitates a weekly Reiki Share at Center of Symmetry in Nashville, and facilitates Reiki, Herbology and Alternative Health classes and workshops in the Nashville Area. Chat with Becki on Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook
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