Slow Eating

There is a lot talked about Slow Food and the Slow Food Movement. It was, in fact, the genesis of the modern Slow Movement. Unlike other slow movements, it has a figurehead (Carlo Petrini), its own website (www.slowfood.com) and many “officially” sanctioned organisations around the globe.

The Slow Food Movement seems to be mainly concerned with the quality of ingredients, cooking and eating experiences. But what about the actually physical process of eating your food? The mechanics of chewing, tasting and swallowing (and digestion!)? There is no point having Slow Food, if you eat it quickly!

By slowing down your eating process you will find you enjoy your food more, eat less (which will help you lose weight) and actually be drawn to healthier foods.

Do this little experiment

Get a piece of food you enjoy eating, a piece of fruit, or maybe a chunk of (good quality) chocolate. Pick it up, look at it, we first taste with our eyes, feel the texture in your hand (with chocolate you may have to do this fast!), smell it, then pop it in your mouth. Notice the texture and the first thing you taste and any emotions and thoughts this conjures up. Start to slowly chew or suck it, ever so slowly, notice how the flavour and texture changes, notice the sensations in your mouth, where they start, where they go. Notice the mechanical process, what does your jaw do? Your teeth and tongue? At the last moment, only when you cannot hold it off any more, then swallow it. Now notice any lingering flavours, sensations and thoughts or emotions.

How was it for you?!

Fast food is not only designed to be cooked and served quickly it is also designed to be eaten quickly, it is packed with flavourings designed to give you an instant “hit” of taste (and make you crave more), if you are prone to the craving of fast food (I may, of course, be preaching to the converted here), repeat the above experiment and notice the difference, not that when you eat fast food slowly, the flavour, texture and sensations really aren’t very nice at all…

Practice eating slowly for at least one meal a day, notice how it changes your relationship with food, how your tastes and cravings change, and notice the change in your mechanical eating process and digestion (you will probably notice you feel less bloated, stuffed and get less indigestion) and how that affects your state of mind and energy levels.

Here are my tips for Slow Eating

  1. Sit at a table in a good chair that makes you sit upright, by having a place to eat you ritualise the process and it becomes about eating, not about doing something else and just happening to eat at the same time.
  2. Turn off the TV (see my point above!) – chatting is fine, but don’t have anything that will distract you and put you on automatic eating mode. Be mindful of the food, the texture, taste and thoughts and emotions it promotes.
  3. Chew at least seven time (20 if you can).
  4. Take a small break between each mouthful (don’t wolf it down). Put your knife and fork down, chew the food, only when you have swallowed that mouthful pick up your knife and fork again and take another mouthful.
  5. Stop when you feel approximately 80% full (comfortably full, not stuffed), NOT when the plate is empty (you may find to begin with, you leave quite a lot of food on your plate until you get used to the correct portion size).

Matt