Do you ever feel bummed when a meal is over? That’s me about seventy-five percent of the time, partially because I’m so enthusiastic about what I’m eating that I simply never want it to end, but mostly because I ate it hurriedly and only halfway remembered to enjoy it. Does anyone else experience this? Since most of us are flying through life overscheduled and in a hurry, it makes total sense that mealtime is all too often a rushed affair. Slowing down and enjoying the journey (and the flavor) is a constant goal of mine in life… and at lunch.

It usually goes something like this: I sit down at a meal that I’ve shopped for, prepared and looked forward to… then I start talking, or cruising the internet, or jumping up and down between bites to help Phoebe and Henry with their eating needs (there are a lot), and poof! Somehow my entire meal has disappeared and I hardly noticed consuming it. *tear* 

Based on conversations with friends, it seems speed-eating is an issue for a lot of us. My friend Kim, a business owner with a 4-year-old and 1-year-old, says, “I call this the ‘one-handed eating’ phase of my life: if a child is around and a knife is needed, I pass. I have to be very mindful to try and buy healthy, easy things so I don’t resort to junk food.”

Similarly, my friend Anne (who seems to magically juggle mothering her 3 kids with her jobs as an editor and design assistant — without a nanny or daycare) says that a designated lunch time doesn’t really even exist for her. “I make a point to have a well rounded and healthy protein-packed breakfast before the hullabaloo that is my day begins. Early in the day, I start with an egg and a corn tortilla and possibly a smoothie. It helps fuel me and keep me going.”

And Jordan opts for drinking some of her meals: “I owe most of my nutrition to my Vitamix. I mix up a smoothie for breakfast or lunch almost every day, and especially with kids, it’s so easy and portable and can be taken in the car without having to sacrifice a healthy meal.”

On the flip side, Kelly recently experienced unexpected effects on her eating speed after a visit to the dentist: “There is such a thing called the #InvisalignDiet and I am on it. According to my dentist, for optimal results, it’s recommended that I wear my trays for 22 hours a day and brush my teeth after each meal (trust me, you do not want to simply pop your trays back on after a meal without brushing). As a result, I’m no longer snacking all day long or having a quick bite of a treat just because it’s there. I’m much more mindful, eating only when I’m hungry and filling up on water in between. It’s a nice departure from my mindless grazing, even with the healthiest of snacks. I’ve even lost a few pounds. Who knew I’d develop healthy habits on the path to straighter teeth!”

Carmen, one of the slower eaters on our team, says, “I’ve noticed that it’s easier for me to tell when I’m getting full when I’m not watching tv or working on my computer. When you’re fully present at the table, you’re more likely to listen to your body, rather than just trying to clear your plate!”

There’s another anxiety-producing scenario to consider: what happens when you share food with someone who eats more quickly than you? Chanel says, “As someone who eats at a generally normal pace, I’m forever wary of sharing dishes with faster eaters. There’s nothing worse than feeling pressured to eat more food, more quickly! One example — my fiancé eats french fries 2 or 3 at a time, while I pick up one fry at a time and savor each bite. You can imagine what happens when there’s one basket of pomme frites set between the two of us: lots of foodie anxiety and the pressure to keep up! Anyone else?”

For those that aren’t fully convinced that eating slowly is a worthy endeavor, consider a few of the benefits:

  1. Achieve a healthy weight. Eating slowly gives our bodies time to realize that they’re full. It takes about twenty minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to send out signals of satiety, so if we can give ourselves time to register those feelings, we can avoid overeating (and that icky “stuffed” feeling that comes with it.)
  2. Improve digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth, and when we eat very quickly, large bites that are inadequately chewed end up making their way to our stomachs. This leads to difficulty breaking down the food, causing indigestion and other GI problems.
  3. Increased satisfaction. Remember how I said that when I eat a great meal too quickly, I feel bummed that I kind of missed the whole experience? When we take time to really savor and appreciate every bite, we leave the table feeling content and happy in our tummies and souls.

I’d love to hear if you guys are naturally fast or slow eaters, and if it’s something that you’ve tried to work on in the past? Any tips on how you’ve learned to eat more mindfully, slow down and savor your meals? Let me know in the comments — I’m going to try and put some of them into action over the next few weeks, and I’ll report back on my progress!

On a side note, at some point while typing this I sucked down a smoothie and ate a bowl of fruit — but was so absorbed in my writing that I didn’t really notice.

*photos: Kristen Kilpatrick

7 comments
  1. 1
    Rosie | July 14, 2016 at 6:49 am

    I absolutely believe that eating more slowly can change one’s life. I personally find savouring both the making of and consumption of food relaxes me and makes me appreciate it more. Perhaps controversial, but I also find that artfully arranging and photographing my meals also makes me enjoy it more!

    Reply
  2. 2
    Jessica Woods (@jwoods_studio) | July 14, 2016 at 7:07 am

    I’ve started eating more slowly a few months back and I’ve definitely noticed a difference x

    Jessica — WS Community

    Reply
  3. 3
    The Beautydojo | July 14, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    I’m a pretty slow eater. I like to take my time and chew my food carefully. I think all that will change once I have kids. The times I’ve had to take care of a child while eating, it was super hard to feed myself ahaha.

    http://www.thebeautydojo.com

    Reply
  4. 4
    Kelly | July 15, 2016 at 7:47 am

    You are absolutely right! Useful tips. I had to change my habit of fast eating two years ago. I feel better! Loosing weight already.

    Reply
  5. 5
    Catherine | July 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    My speed of eating increased dramatically with the arrival of my child. I also noticed that if I didn’t shower and dress before she woke I would still be in my pjs at 4pm! The demanding combination of breastfeeding and care of a new born nearly turned me into something feral. Over the years the demands varied, but there was always something pushing me to just get it over with. She heads off to college in the fall and we are both determined to eat healthy. I will share your article with her. Clean eating has become a strong bond between us and meals savored together have become precious.

    Reply
    • Camille Styles | July 16, 2016 at 7:30 am

      Thanks for sharing Catherine — that’s so great to hear that you’ve been able to encourage and help each other in your clean eating efforts!

      Reply
  6. 6
    Lifestyle Lodestar | July 22, 2016 at 4:20 am

    I used to eat slowly and my digestion and general food experience improved greatly. Recently having been so busy at work I really regret not maintaining this slow eating pace. Its something I feel is very important so I’l glad to have come across this post. I will try even more to implement slow eating for every meal !

    https://lifestylelodestar.com/

    Reply
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