We are all results of the XY or XX chromosome from our parents. Besides bringing us alive onto this world we are also innately blessed with their characteristics and personalities with unique behaviours of our own that makes us who we are - bringing about an identity to every individual living in this world. Nurtured with love and affection children are slowly taught on what’s wrong and what’s right, how to behave, talk, move with others and eat. Eating habits are generally learnt by observing others at the table. Every child’s first role model is his/her parents and he/she tries to imitate their acting styles and even choose foods based on their likes and dislikes. So, maybe all parents shoulder the huge responsibility of helping their kids learn table etiquettes, the types of foods they could choose, portion sizes fit for their age and the way they should eat the meal. Despite such upbringing, each of us ultimately land up with our own style of eating, choosing our preferred choice of foods and sticking to our desirable portion sizes. Hence, we have evolved into a community dominated by our choice and preferences beyond what’s needed or what’s right.
Revisiting Basics of Eating
As kids, we all had a fine experience eating at the table with our family. There have also been occasions when we helped our mums set the table or serve simple dishes. For some, it started with a prayer while for others it was one of the best times of the day when there was so much laughter, fun and happiness around. But now, eating has become an undeniable chore that needs to be done as quickly as possible moving on to the next priority job in our busy schedule. In such a haste, we hardly chew the food mostly gulping it down which can cause ample harm to the body.
Eating Too Fast
Eating in a hurry might save time for you but it burdens you with side effects later in life which includes the brunt of:
Overeating & Obesity: The brain is not given sufficient time to realize fullness and you keep loading yourself with more calories than required. Such uncontrolled eating can put you at a higher risk of overweight/obesity. A large-scale study in Japan on people with type 2 diabetes showed that fast eaters were at the highest risk of obesity while slow eaters were at the lowest risk. That’s because, it takes between 15-20 minutes for the brain to realize satiety but a fast eater gobbles down more food in 20 minutes than a slow eater making them victims of overeating and fullness (https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-you-a-fast-eater-slow-down-to-eat-and-weigh-less/) with the effects elaborated below:
Digestion: When you gobble down food there is no time for chewing it properly. There are even some who simply swallow it down with a glass of water to finish off with the eating chore as quickly as possible. All this can definitely end up in digestion problems.
Insulin resistance: High blood sugar and insulin levels can land you with insulin resistance.
Decreased Metabolic Syndrome: Finishing off your food in less than 10 minutes? This might make the boss happier as you get to spend more time at your desk working but this is also an indication that you are putting yourself at a dangerously high risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome, both of which increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. An exclusive study on this found that fast eaters were 11.6% likelier to develop metabolic syndrome and yet another study showed that fast eaters were three times likelier to be overweight than those who ate meals more slowly.
My best friend was an extremely slow eater and when we went to the hostel mess for a meal together, she would not even be done with one roti by the time the rest of us were near completion. She is not a chatterbox who wastes time while eating, doesn’t keep daydreaming with food right in front of her nor is there any concern that she has a displeasure for the food served. Her only habit was to chew the food as much as possible before swallowing and sending it for digestion. She almost does 25% of the digestion by chewing the food! She is the best example for chewing and eating the food as advised by India’s ancient school of medicine, Ayurveda.
Though nutritionally there is no difference witnessed with excess chewing it does indeed help to control appetite and weight gain. Chewing is said to increase satiety and hunger hormone levels and both, obese and lean people ate less when they chewed more.
There are a lot many advises shared on the best way to eat food and this includes mindful eating which is nothing but eating slowly, intentionally and without any electronic gadgets around with the sole focus of enjoying the food on your plate and being 100% aware of you eating process. This prevents you from eating at jet speed indeed!
Eating together might set the perfect platform for each of us to have fun and catch up on each of our activities through the day, the only time during which we completely forget about work, refrain from using our smartphones and be involved with our family. It provides us with the right opportunity to help our kids understand the art of choosing healthy foods, inspiring them to come up with ingredients that can be used in the next meal and also keep the entire family together providing them with time to come up with any issues or problems that need the intervention of other family members.
Instead of making it an appointment it should be seen as an opportunity to de-stress and build better relationships-parents with their kids and between adults too. There are even some countries where mealtimes are considered to be sacred. For instance, in France while it is acceptable to eat by oneself one should never rush a meal and failing to follow this would bring about awkward glances and dirty glares from other people surrounding the individual. In Mexican cities people often gather together in central areas like parks or town squares to enjoy their meal and in Cambodia villagers follow a pot-luck kind of tradition-each of them bring food and spread out colorful mats to eat them with joy (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/the-importance-of-eating-together/374256/).
We spend ample time training our kids how to eat but all of it disappears when time comes for us to eat our meal-we even forget to put the spoon and fork down between mouthful of foods to take time to chew. You can even talk in between mouthful of foods and reduce your pace to match that of the slowest eater at the table to enjoy your meal and to eat slowly. Also, never wait until you are too hungry as this might ultimately make you eat as fast as possible to satisfy your hunger pangs. Though many might still advice against drinking water in between eating, there are theories supporting and opposing this. It is always recommended to drink two glasses of water before starting to eat and again drink water once you are done. You can limit water consumption during the meal as this can make you seem full and even substitute for the nutrient-rich dishes placed on the table leaving you with unfulfilled nutrition intake. While what we eat determines nutritional count how we eat, our attitude and behaviour towards food is equally important. Don’t rush through the meal, take time to enjoy your lunch break and see the magic it does on your quality of life.
What Happens to Your Body when You Eat Fast? https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-eat-fast-insulin-resistance-obesity-6148204/
It’s Not a Race! How to Know If You Eat Too Fast: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/know-eat-fast-can-do/
Is Eating Too Quickly Bad for your Health? https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/nov/20/is-eating-food-too-quickly-bad-for-health
Are You a Fast Eater? Slow Down to Eat (& Weight) Less: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-you-a-fast-eater-slow-down-to-eat-and-weigh-less/
Why Slow Eaters May Burn More Calories: https://time.com/4736062/slow-eater-chew-your-food/
Eating Slowly May Help with Weight Loss, Study Finds: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2018/02/12/eating-slowly-and-mindfully-may-help-with-weight-loss-study-finds/#5f8ff7995f41
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