Excuse me sir/ma'am, do you know how fast you were eating? This is a residential area and you were clearly eating over the limit. (Some of you should be thanking your lucky stars I can't write food tickets or send you to food jail... man, I can digress FAST!)
Following right on the heels of last week's article about identifying if you're hungry or just bored, I'd like to talk about how fast you eat. I'd also like to explain why it's important.
I think most people are aware that it's not healthy to inhale food, despite what any seven year old at the dinner table with his parents may believe... and even some 27 year olds I've seen out there.
However, I think most people are under the assumption that it has to do with properly digesting your food so you can avoid upset stomachs or indigestion. While, yes, that is part of the idea, as always, it goes a little deeper than that.
Did you realize that it takes about 15-20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it's full? Unfortunately, it only takes your hand 0.02 seconds to tell your mouth "Get ready for these french fries, yo!"
Follow that up with the average meal speed at a fast food restaurant taking less than 15 minutes and you can see where we may get into some hunger hassles. Typically we can go in, order, inhale... I mean, eat our food and be out the door before our stomach even knows what hit it.
A sit-down diner can be a little bit better choice, with average meal times of around 30 minutes. (Someone reading this just complained about how long their last meal at ________ restaurant took way over 30 minutes, I guarantee it).
So the problem with eating too fast is that we don't give our stomach the proper time to signal the brain that we're full. This leads to us overeating. This leads us to taking in too many calories. This leads to us looking in the mirror with a frowny face wondering what happened.
OK, answer time! What to do? First, and most obvious, simply slow down. Take your time when you eat; it's not a race. If you're not pressed for time, make conversation between bites. Drink water. Heck, make a sculpture out of your mashed cauliflower (don't knock it till you try it). Anything you can do to give your stomach time to catch up will ultimately benefit you in the end.
If you're pressed for time, learn proper portion sizes. For most women that will equal to a protein being the size of your palm, carbs about the size of a cupped hand, veggies the size of your fist and fats being the size of your thumb. Men can simply double most of those serving sizes. But it should be noted that different weight loss or weight gain goals will require some adjustments.
Lastly, try eating until you're only about 80% full. This will usually ensure that you're not overdoing it and can help you to not have an insulin spike with the usual food coma shortly thereafter.
Until next week, watch what you eat, but watch the clock, too, live fresh and let your stomach have a chance to breathe.
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and frequently posts videos on his YouTube channel. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.