This isn’t the only tool in your toolbox, however.
There are four steps that you can take right now to start seeing changes in how you look, feel, and perform that have nothing to do with what you eat.
- Eat slowly
- Chew thoroughly
- Pay attention to your food
- Stop eating at 80% full
You might think these steps sound too simple, but there’s plenty of evidence backing them up.
A 2015 systematic review and analysis of 23 studies found that folks who ate quickly were twice as likely as slow eaters to be overweight (1).
One explanation for this could be that eating slowly helps you eat less without feeling more hungry (2).
Now, you might be curious just how to make this happen.
One strategy you might employ is putting your fork down between bites.
That seems insignificant, but you might find those few seconds to really add up.
Another strategy you might employ is chewing thoroughly.
Chewing has been shown to not only help reduce food intake, but also promote the release of hormones that aid in digestion and satiety (3).
To make this easier at first, you could consider counting your “chews”.
For example, commit to chewing each bite a minimum number of times – say, 15 or 20.
While you’re doing all that chewing, pay attention.
Pay attention to your food
Eating attentively – including paying attention to what you’re currently eating and reflecting on previous meals – has been shown to reduce not only the amount eaten in the immediate moment, but also later in the day (4).
Take a minute before eating to breathe, be aware, and bring intentionality to your meal.
Explore each bite, observing how it tastes, how it smells, and its texture.
Pay attention also to how hungry or satisfied you are.
Stop eating at 80% full
The Okinawans have a saying, “hara hachi bu”, or “eat until you are 80% full”, that just may be a key factor in their having a higher-than-normal concentration of centenarians (5).
As you’re eating, notice how your appetite responds over the course of the meal.
Find that “sweet spot” where you’re not stuffed, but satisfied.
This might not be easy at first, but with some practice, you can start nailing it consistently.
Additional strategies to help put this into practice
1) Plan ahead
- That which isn’t scheduled often doesn’t happen.
- Make the time and space to eat and only eat.
- When are you going to eat?
- Where are you going to eat?
- What are you going to eat?
2) Eliminate distractions
- Turn off the TV.
- Close the laptop.
- Put away the phone.
- Disconnect from your devices.
- Connect with your food.
- Connect with the people around you.
- Connect with yourself.
3) Appreciate the experience
- Be grateful for a delicious meal, and perhaps good company.
- Embrace the opportunity to nourish your body.
- Recognize that you’re providing it what it needs to help you live your best life.
4) Be patient
- This approach can be a major change.
- It may take time.
- It may take practice.
- It may take effort.
You’re worth that effort.
You’ve got this.