It´s 12:30 PM on a Friday afternoon and your boss is hounding you to finish a piece of work you´ve been working on all week. You were going to simply skip lunch, but the donut and coffee you had in the car for breakfast isn´t exactly helping you deal with the growling in your stomach. You look at your watch and decide if you leave now for lunch, you could be back at your desk in 20 minutes and still hopefully finish your work before 5 PM and make it to your kid´s baseball game on time.
You run out of the office and into the first fast food restaurant you can find, order whatever meal that can be most quickly prepared, and scarf it down in five minutes. As you run back to the office, you chug a bottle of soda and some antacids to deal with the horrible indigestion you know is on its way. But hey, you made it back to the office, got your work finished, and made it to your son´s ball game by the third inning.
We live a hectic, fast-paced life in a frenzied world. Too many of us rush from activity to activity and many times don´t find the time to simply enjoy some of the best parts of life. Food is one of those of things. Many of our meals are “on-the-go,” meaning that we don´t take the time to actually sit down, taste what we´re eating, and enjoy the wholeness and nourishment of what is going into our bodies.
Eating slowly is a luxury that many of us don´t think we can afford. However, there are a number of benefits, both physical and psychological, that come with eating slowly. Making an effort to slow down, especially during mealtime, might be the first step towards a life where you can actually enjoy those everyday moments.
Our brains take about 20 minutes to realize that our stomachs are full. Most of us have already finished a meal within those 20 minutes. When we eat fast and hurried, we don´t allow the time our bodies need to know that they´ve received enough food. Some studies suggest that by eating slower, many people can lose weight because they´ll be able to better feel when their bodies have received the nutrition it needs.
Another big health benefit to eating slower is the fact that your digestive system will thank you. When we eat fast, the act of actually chewing our food is forgotten as we tend to swallow whole the food we eat. Digestion actually starts in the mouth where your teeth and saliva begin to break down the food so that stomach can better process the food and extract the nutrition your body needs. When we don´t take the time to chew up our food, we may be eating more but actually getting less nutrition from the food we eat.
Lastly, eating slowly brings with it the opportunity to actually enjoy the food we eat. By taking the time to sit down to the table, smell the richness of a meal prepared with care, engage in conversation with those who share the table with us, and feel thankful for all the factors that came together for the meal to arrive to our table, we can experience food on a whole new level.