There’s an art to eating.
There is a skill that can change the way you enjoy your food and benefit your overall well-being.
The art of eating slowly is a practice that invites us to savor every morsel and immerse ourselves fully in our food experience.
Mindful eating is about being fully present with each bite and engaging all our senses in the process. It starts by paying close attention to the food on our plate, appreciating its colors, textures, and aromas before even taking the first bite. Once we start eating, the journey continues with deliberate chewing, relishing the flavors as they dance on our taste buds and all of this can be noticed when we slow down.
Avoid the Gulp, Gobble & Go!
“Gulp” refers to swallowing food or drink hastily, without fully chewing or appreciating it.
“Gobble” typically refers to eating quickly or voraciously, often without much attention to the food’s taste or texture. Both actions can lead to overeating and a disconnection from the experience of eating.
“Go” represents the hurried, distracted manner in which some people approach their meals, rushing through the process to get to the next task or activity.
How can we dig a little deeper into the eating process and slow down?
Think about the six phases of eating; non-eating, preparation, pause (to be implemented with mindful eating), eating, and the meal phase.
- Non-eating phase: During the non-eating phase, when there is no physical hunger present, you can focus on other activities without the urge to eat.
- Preparation phase: In the preparation phase, if hunger arises, it is typically for something smaller rather than a full meal. This phase involves selecting what to eat mindfully, considering both nourishment and enjoyment.
- Pause phase: The pause phase is a moment of intentional pause before eating, allowing you to bring your attention to the present moment and engage in mindful eating practices. This helps create a sense of presence and awareness around your meal.
- Eating phase: During the eating phase, you remain attentive to the level of your hunger and consciously observe the direct sensory experience of eating. This includes noticing the taste, texture, and satisfaction derived from each bite, and fostering a deeper connection with your food.
- Meal phase: As you approach the end of the meal phase, you become aware that your fullness is starting to emerge. It’s important to acknowledge this sensation and recognize that continuing to eat may lead to discomfort or eating beyond your comfort level.
Adapted from Core Concepts of Mindful Eating by Megrette Fletcher, PhD
But what are the real benefits of this seemingly simple act?
Benefits of Eating Slowly
- Better Digestion: When we eat slowly, we grant our digestive system the time it needs to work its magic. Our bodies can better break down food, extract nutrients, and avoid discomforts like bloating or indigestion.
- Improved Portion Control: By slowing down, we give our brain the chance to catch up with our stomach. We start noticing the signals of satiety, realizing when we’re comfortably full, and preventing overeating.
- More Satisfaction: Eating slowly allows us to tap into a newfound satisfaction from our meals. As we pay attention to each bite, we feel more content.
- Enhanced Mind-Body Connection: When we engage in mindful eating, we establish a deeper connection with our bodies. We learn to listen to our hunger and fullness cues, understand our needs, and cultivate a healthier relationship with food.
- More Enjoyment: Eating slowly turns a mundane meal into a pleasure-filled journey of flavors.
Skill Builder Actions
- Switch Hands Challenge: Challenge yourself to use your non-dominant hand to slow down your eating pace.
- Put Down the Utensil: After each bite, place your utensil down on the table. This simple act prevents mindless shoveling of food and encourages thoughtful eating.
- Tiny Utensils: Try eating with smaller utensils, like a shrimp fork. This forces you to take smaller bites and naturally slows down your eating pace.
- Sense-Focused Eating: Pick one aspect of your meal – maybe the aroma or the texture – and give it your undivided attention. Explore it fully before moving on.
- Chew-Per-Bite Ratio: Set a rule for yourself, like chewing each bite at least twenty times. This practice not only aids digestion but also prolongs the enjoyment of your food.
- Empty Mouth Rule: Resist the temptation to take another bite until your mouth is empty. This small pause between bites helps you appreciate the current mouthful fully.
- Eating Intermission: Incorporate short breaks during your meal. Sip a drink, share a story with a friend, or take a brief walk. These intermissions allow your body to signal fullness.
- Pace Yourself with the Slowest: If you’re dining with others, try to match the eating pace of the slowest eater at the table.
Eating slowly is like an art form. When we gobble or gulp our food, we miss out on so much flavor and pleasure. We can experience better digestion, less overeating, and feel more satisfied with each bite by slowing down. Plus, through a better mind-body connection, you get to know your hunger and fullness cues better.