We all do it to a greater or lesser degree depending on what life throws at us: eating on the go, snacking in the car or at our desk because we’re so busy and because time is precious – eating too quickly.

But if you sit down at a table (not watching TV or using social media!) you may find you eat less processed junk food and more healthy meals without even trying too hard.

The benefits of slow eating include better digestion, easier weight loss and/or weight maintenance and greater satisfaction with our meals. Meanwhile, eating quickly leads to poor digestion, increased weight gain, and lower satisfaction and sustained energy.

Eating slowly helps you eat less

After a meal, your gut suppresses a hormone called ghrelin, which controls hunger, while also releasing hormones that make you feel full. These hormones tell your brain that you have eaten, thus reducing appetite and making you feel both full and satisfied with what you have eaten.

Sensing satisfaction

Eating slowly gives your body time to recognise that it’s full.  It takes the brain about 20 minutes to send out messages saying that you’ve eaten enough – but many people gobble down their meal in far less time than that resulting in over eating and feeling unpleasantly full afterwards.  It helps to leave us feeling satisfied rather than full and that lasts for longer meaning that we are less likely to snack in between meals.

Improved digestion

Slow eating and proper chewing help to support digestive function. It gives us the chance to secrete important digesting enzymes that break down food so we absorb more nutrients.

Chewing our food is an extremely important part of the digestive process helping us break it down allowing our digestive enzymes to work efficiently and thus avoiding common symptoms such as indigestion and heartburn and bloating.

Eating less

Slow eaters also tend to eat less food.  A recent study showed that women who ate slowly to a point of feeling comfortably full, consumed less calories than those who were instructed to eat as quickly as possible.  Given that many of us shovel our food down when we’ve got a spare moment in between meetings etc, this could be an important tool in weight management.  Interestingly those who ate more quickly reported feeling more hungry an hour later.


When you eat slowly, you digest better; you lose or maintain weight more easily but you also feel more satisfied with each meal. On the other hand, if you rush your meals your digestion suffers; meals are stressful; you often want to eat more because you feel you have not eaten enough. Eating quickly and finishing the meal before your natural satiety signals kick can leave you feeling suddenly and uncomfortably  over-full leading to digestive discomfort.

Tips to help you practice eating more slowly

  • Sit down to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions. Don’t eat while driving, watching TV, scrolling, texting, etc.
  • Pay attention to your food. Taking a few breaths before you start eating can calm down your stress hormones,  so your body is able to produce digestive enzymes and allow you to eat in a more mindful and ultimately enjoyable way.
  • Include high fibre foods as part of your meal – they take more time to chew, such as whole grains, salads and vegetables as well as filling you up.
  • Put down your knife/fork/spoon between bites. Concentrate on your mouthful and chew it well; take a moment; breathe.

photo: pexels-sora-shimazaki