Do you guys remember my vow to try and start eating more slowly? In the month since I wrote that post, I’ve been implementing a few changes at mealtime, so I thought it would be a good time to report back with what’s really made a difference for me. As we touched upon in the last post, these busy lives we lead often require doing everything very quickly and very efficiently, often on autopilot because we’re actually doing two (or five) things at once. I’ve noticed that when I habitually down my meals quickly, I feel dissatisfied and am more likely to reach for snacks or desserts later, even when I’m not truly hungry.

Eating slowly brings mindfulness and appreciation to mealtimes, and perhaps most importantly, it encourages optimal digestion. It makes us think about whether or not we’re truly hungry, and makes it easier to set down our fork when we’re full. I’ve noticed that since I’ve started eating more slowly, I actually feel more satisfied after eating less — and when I leave the table I actually feel happier in my soul. Click through for 8 tips that are really helping me eat more slowly — and I’d love to hear any that I left off in the comments!

Chew more.

I recently realized that when I’m eating quickly, I tend to barely chew my food before swallowing (gross.) Digestion starts in the mouth, so if large bites of improperly chewed food make it to your stomach, your body will have to work really hard to digest each piece of food, taking up huge amounts of your body’s energy and often resulting in GI problems. Try setting a certain number of chews you’re aiming for per bite, then appreciate the tastes and textures while you’re counting. I’ve been trying for 20, which seemed like a lot at first, but after a bit of practice is getting easier and definitely slowing down my eating.

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Don’t multitask.

This is the toughest one for me. With the exception of dinner which we always eat together as a family, my other meals are often done in tandem with another activity. Breakfast while I’m texting, lunch while I’m typing, sucking down a smoothie while I’m driving. Whether it’s reading, talking on the phone, or watching TV, multitasking while eating seriously gets in the way of mindfulness. I’ve been trying to take just 15 minutes to just eat.

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Have a conversation.

The only other activity that you should aim to do while eating? Relishing in a great conversation with family and friends. This is the secret behind those hours-long lunches you hear about in places like Italy, France, and Spain, where mealtimes are approached as a time for community and conversation. If you’re chatting, you can’t be simultaneously eating, so the mere act of conversation will slow down the meal (not to mention make it incredibly fun.)

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Put down your fork between bites.

If you’re shoveling bites of food into your mouth one after another without putting down your fork, you’re not giving yourself a chance to register fullness (it takes 20 minutes for your mind to get the message.) As a result, you’ll likely end up feeling way too stuffed at the end of a meal. The trick here is to set down your fork after taking a bite, then wait to pick it up again only after you’ve thoroughly chewed and swallowed the previous bite of food (and possibly also taken a sip of water.)

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Drink water.

This one really helps me — putting down my knife and fork to sip water gives me a “rest” between bites, plus the extra liquid helps me feel more full.

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Make mealtime an event.

Instead of just squeezing it in wherever, make mealtime an appointment in your day that you can look forward to as a break from the busyness and a time to nourish your body. Use a real plate, actually sit at the table, and carve out at least 20 – 30 minutes. Following certain rituals signals to your brain that it’s time to focus on eating.

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Serve smaller portions.

Since we have a natural tendency to eat whatever is in front of us, when presented with a huge plate full of food, we want to “dive in” and clear it off. Smaller portions encourage slower, more mindful eating where we can savor every bite.

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Refocus during the meal.

Like meditation, eating slowly takes practice, and it’s natural to start to daydream during a meal and suddenly find yourself eating quickly again. It’s okay! When your mind starts to wander, set your utensils down, take a deep breath, and refocus your mind on the slow eating at hand.

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  1. 1
    BlushandPearls | August 24, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I have a really hard time eating slowly. It takes all my focus because it is such a persistant habit of mine. I agree that using smaller portions helps, or speaking to someone (although I always find a way to squeeze in a few quick bites between words!).

    • Camille Styles | August 24, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      Haha, same here — sometimes when I’m speaking, I’ll even cut myself short because I want to be eating instead! 😉 Crazy how hard it can be to break these habits. Hope you got some ideas you can try incorporating!

  2. 2
    Amy | August 24, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I read the tip about putting your fork down between bites when I was in high school, and now it is second nature to me! Although I will say I am always the last person to finish their food. If I try to eat faster, I get a horrible stomach ache!

    You mentioned smaller portions — at home, we always use salad plates as dinner plates (from the Pottery Barn caterer’s line). My parents used antique plates from my great-grandparents when I was growing up, and I swear modern dinner plates have tripled in size! The salad plates are about the same as what previous generations used.

    • Camille Styles | August 24, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks Amy, love the smaller plates idea — definitely think this encourages healthier portion sizes!

  3. 3
    olivial | August 24, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I am all about the new “wellness” aspect of your brand but this seems to be taking it a little too far into the realm of eating disorders (aka 20 chews before another bite…). I hope you reconsider your positioning.

    • Camille Styles | August 24, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Olivia! Thanks for sharing your thoughts — the 20 chews idea is actually not driven by a desire for weight loss (I’m currently at a healthy weight, so that’s not really a goal of mine.) It’s a recommendation I’ve been reading about from doctors and nutritionists, who advocate chewing thoroughly so that the digestive enzymes in your saliva can begin breaking down the food before it passes into your intestines. Your intestines will then be able to more easily absorb nutrients and energy from food, and improperly digested food will be prevented from entering your blood stream and causing adverse health effects (i.e. “leaky gut.”) I know it sounds like a lot, and it’s probably not for everyone, but please know that the idea comes from the perspective of maximizing health and nutrition, not losing weight.

  4. 4
    Joe Jackson | August 24, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Camille, absolutely love your blog!

    As a nutritionist, I would say that it’s best not to drink while you’re eating, as if you drink too much it can dilute your digestive enzymes, which in turn can have a negative effect on your digestion. I really struggle with doing this myself as I always feel like drinking while i’m eating!

    • Camille Styles | August 24, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks Joe, I’m really glad someone brought that up since it’s something I’ve read about before, and been curious how much truth there is to it. In your opinion, is it better to drink before or after you eat… and how long before or after? And does taking a digestive enzyme help counterbalance the effect of fluid?

      • Joe Jackson | August 25, 2016 at 3:06 am

        I would say try and keep 30 minutes either side of eating as liquid free as possible. Of course, we’re all human, and a little bit won’t hurt, just don’t flood your system with liquid!

        I think digestive enzymes are a great idea, although the excess fluid will still have the same effect, so it may be a bit of a waste of money!

        Looking forward to reading more of your posts! x

  5. 5
    CHristina Decker | August 25, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Great, tips Camille! I have a tough time slowing down while eating and often find that once I finish my meal I’m still hungry and wanting more because my brain hasn’t yet had time to register that I’m actually full and satisfied. Off topic, what is that wonderful dish in the photo above? It looks delicious!

    • Camille Styles | August 25, 2016 at 6:32 am

      I can totally identify — I often leave the table, and then 20 minutes later am wondering why I had those last few bites of food because I feel too full! Check out this post for all the details on the above photo… that baked oatmeal is seriously good, and there’s a link to my recipe in the post. xoxo

  6. 6
    Anne Rita Taylor | August 26, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! When I was younger I ate slower – through the years I seem to be eating faster and faster. I am definitely going to try your suggestions.

  7. 7
    Samantha | September 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for nice tips! I am younger but eating very very slowly within a 1 hour finish my eat.

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