Why Eating Fast Can Make You Fat and Gassy (and What You Can Do Instead)

As a kid sitting at the dining room table, I noticed that my parents had very different styles of eating:

  • My dad would inhale his food like a vacuum cleaner and sometimes even lick the plate clean. He'd always joke that there'd be one less dish to wash because it was clean enough to put back on the shelf.
  • My mom, on the other hand, was the slowest eater I'd ever met. Watching her eat was excruciating. Always the last one at the table, she'd still be making her way through the first half of her meal while the rest of the family was finishing up their second helpings.

I was a fast eater like my dad. Sometimes I'd even want to race him to see if I could finish my meal before he did.

Fortunately these days, I eat my meals much slower (and I'm happy to announce that my dad does too!)

When I ask my clients whether they would consider themselves a slow, medium, or fast eater, the majority identify with the latter. After all, we live in a fast-paced world. Who has time to actually sit down and eat slowly these days?

Well, you do. You've just got to make the time for it (and trust me, your body will thank you for it).

If you're a fast eater and you are carrying around excess weight and/or you experience digestive upset after eating (you know those sexy symptoms like gas, bloating, stomachaches, constipation, heartburn, etc.), keep reading because you will definitely benefit from slowing down.

Check out my blog post entitled "How to Eat Heavy Food Without Feeling Heavy Afterward" to learn more about how slow eating can help you better manage dining in social situations.


What Happens When You Eat Too Fast?

Eating too fast puts your body in a physiologic state of stress and when your body is in this stressed out state, it works against you in a number of ways including:

  • Your calorie-burning power diminishes (which can result in weight gain)
  • Your metabolism slows down (also results in weight gain)
  • You don't derive as much pleasure from your food
  • You crave more food afterward
  • Your body doesn't absorb nutrients as well (which is a shame when you're eating such quality food!)

The same mechanism that turns stress on in the body, turns digestion off. So if you want to eat when your digestion is activated and in full force, you've got to turn OFF your stress and turn ON your relaxation.

Because being in a physiologic state of relaxation puts your body in the optimal state of digestion, you may find that your embarrassing post-meal gas and painful heartburn goes away once you slow down.

It really is that simple.

What if you could lose weight simply by slowing down? What if you didn't have to rely on antacids after every meal? What if changing how you ate is all you had to do to find relief?

It's worth a try, don't you think?

There is way too much focus these days on what to eat, that no one is addressing the importance of how we eat. Today, I invite you to slow down your eating and notice what that does for you. If you find yourself resisting this exercise, take note of that as well. Turn inward and ask yourself why that might be. Ask yourself if there are other areas in your life that could benefit from slowing down as well. As one of my favorite teachers in the field of pleasurable eating, Marc David, says: "The way we do food is the way we do life."

Here are Four Simple and Effective Ways to Slow Down:

  • GET RELAXED. Take 3-5 deep breaths before you take your first bite. Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slow, deep, conscious breathing is an effective way to activate the relaxation response almost immediately.
  • PUT YOUR UTENSIL DOWN AFTER EACH BITE. Wait until you've chewed thoroughly (aim to chew at least 20 times or until your food is liquified) and have swallowed your food completely before picking your utensil back up again to take your next bite.
  • TRY THE TIMER TECHNIQUE. Set a timer for 20 minutes and commit to spending at least that amount of time to eat. In other words, don't finish your meal before the timer goes off. I like this one because I feel like I'm playing a game. Every time I've used this technique, I still have food left when the timer goes off and more often than not, I discover that I'm no longer hungry enough to finish what's on my plate. I also notice that I enjoy my meal a lot more because I was taking the time to be present with my meal instead of scarfing it down in under 2 minutes.
  • PLAY A GAME WITH YOURSELF WHEN DINING WITH OTHERS. Pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table or make it your goal to be the last one at the table to finish.

Whether you want to call it slow eating, mindful eating, sensual eating, or simply being present, know that this technique works and I encourage you to give it a try at your next meal.

The Bottom Line

When you slow down your eating, eat in a relaxed state, and think about making your eating experience a pleasurable one, your body will not only digest your food better (saving you from major post-meal discomfort) but it will also let you know when it's had enough. This means you'll feel more satisfied eating less food which means you'll be able to fit into your skinny jeans in no time!

Are you a fast, moderate, or slow eater? If you're a fast eater, share your favorite strategy for eating slowly or which technique you're going to try today.

Image Credits: freedigitalphotos.net / Naito8 / David Castillo Dominici