Why You Need To Slow Down When Eating Your Food
Written by: Kavata Kithome
Eating can be a fight between what you crave and what you know is going to nourish you and all too often these are not the same foods.
Choosing your meals can feel frustrating, exhausting and full of pitfalls. This stress can leave you feeling constantly on edge and can fuel your emotional eating and cause weight-gain. How can you step out of this cycle and start to eat easier? By slowing down.
Why slow down?
The world we live in today is one of speed. We all race to achieve, produce and be proactive. For me, my biggest stressor might be the fear of having an “unproductive” day and normally slowing down is the last thing on my mind. This is especially true when I have what feels like a million things to do.
But I have found that slowing down with food has the power to change the way you eat and make every food experience not only easier, but more enjoyable.
I know that you don’t need too much convincing, but it it is worth saying that when you take dedicated time to slow down and eat, pleasure and satisfaction have a chance to register. This means that your brain will have the time to recognize that you’ve eaten and you’ll feel more satisfied with your food, be able to gauge your hunger signals better and enjoy what you’re eating. Bonus, right?
During my health transformation, I learned how to slow down and chew everything, even my juice. Doing this, I was able to identify and stop eating foods that were presumably enjoyable, but not actually good for me, like certain desserts. I learned that I don’t really like sugar. Simply put, slowing down makes eating easier.
What does slowing down with food look like? Here are some thoughts:
- Don’t brag about being so busy that you don’t even have time to eat. This isn’t a good thing or a badge of honor; it’s a deep disservice to yourself and your well-being. By bragging about it, you’re promoting it to others and making poor self-care a goal for yourself.
- Don’t live from coffee to coffee. This can be a hard one for some. At work, I watch my coworkers drink cups upon cups of coffee. But when you slow down, you get more nutrition from your food and can relax more, becoming able to make better decisions about where to put your energy. When you slow down and take the time to fuel yourself with a good meal, you can stop relying on coffee to get you through. Which is great, because overloading with coffee promotes a release of cortisol (the stress hormone), which causes cravings and weight gain.
- Don’t eat at your computer, in your car, or in bed. When you slow down, sit in a “food space” (such as a table, bench, break room, park) and focus on your food. This is not the time to also finish off that spreadsheet or add items to your to-do list! You eat, eat properly, then move on with your day.
Now that we have a few tips on how to slow down, the only questions left is how do you slow down?
Breathing in most cases is the secret weapon.
When you focus on your breath, you automatically slow down and release stress. Before every meal and snack, check in with your mind and body. Are you feeling stress or tension anywhere? Regardless of the answer, take 10 long, slow, deep breaths before you take your first bite and any time you feel tension during your meal.
Breathing can help you slow down and enjoy your food more, but even so, you might find yourself finishing your dinner in under five minutes. Can you gift yourself with more than that? I like to use my “playlist technique” to help me make sure I’m taking time for myself and my food.
Use music to pace you.
Its simple, all you do is make a playlist of soothing music you like to hear while eating and try to make your meal last at least a certain number of songs. Over time, add a song and make meal times longer. This is especially useful when eating alone. I found that Miles Davis provides a great soundtrack for me and I use Miles Davis’ musical stylings to pace myself even when I am drinking tea.
You can make meal times progressively longer by using the songs as cues, which is a nice way to do it. I don’t recommending timing a meal or having a stopwatch as it just doesn’t seem conducive to relaxation!
Lastly, plan your meals.
My love-hate relationship with meal prep is no secret. However, you can have the best slow-down intentions in the world, but if you’re spending your day trying to juggle decisions about work, kids, deadlines, which shoes to wear and what to eat, you’re exhausting your willpower and leaving yourself less time to slow down. This is where meal planning comes in.
Even if you’re just pre-planning your lunches for the week, you’ll love the safety net of knowing you’ve got yourself covered and that a stressful food decision isn’t looming over you. This means less stress, more time to slow down and a chance to eat easier.
Slowing down with food takes practice, but once you’ve experienced the fulfillment and pleasure of a day spent eating easily, you’ll never want to go back.
I will tell you that by doing this simple process of slowing down, I am able to gauge if I am hungry or full, if I like the food or not and allow myself the moment to relax over a delicious meal; this helps to ultimately bring my stress levels down and make my meal times mini vacations.
Do you have any tricks for slowing down? What do you do to slow down? I would love to hear from you.
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Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
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