In recent years, food has become less about community and artsmanship, and more about convenience. However, slowing down the fast pace of modern life is essential to wellbeing – especially when it comes to meals. Many studies have shown that eating slowly is tremendously beneficial for the body and mind. Although it can be instinctual to scarf down a quick bite between meetings or after work, taking the time to chew slowly and take breaks between bites can improve the entire eating experience.
The Health Benefits: Improves Digestion
Eating has everything to do with the mind-body connection. As you chew, your brain is sending signals to multiple parts of your body to prepare for digestion. When you eat slowly, you’re giving your body more time to realize what’s happening. In fact, it takes twenty minutes on average for your mind to signal to your body that you are full. Chewing quickly can override this mind-to-body dialogue because it all happens too fast. Often this leads to stomach cramps, bloating, poor digestion, or even acid reflux. Chewing slowly, on the other hand, allows your mind and body to be in sync. Together your mind and body can work more effectively by giving your mouth and stomach time to get the message.
The Experiential Benefits: Appreciate The Food
Food is good, so good. In fact it might be one of life’s greatest joys, so why not make the most of it? Rather than rushing through that piece of pizza, burger, granola bar or fresh apple, slowing down to savor it helps you get more than calories out of your food. When chewing slowly, you may notice flavors, smells, and textures you might have missed before. Eating slowly doesn’t just stop you from being hungry, it makes for a much richer experience.
The Social Benefits: Enjoy Your Company
Some of the healthiest nations in the world don’t actually eat what we might consider “healthy” food. Countries like France, Italy, and Greece eat a diet based primarily in breads and cheeses, and have some of the healthiest people in the world. What’s the difference? There are two main reasons. For one, these European countries eat socially. You’d be hard pressed to find someone eating alone. In eating socially, people also naturally slow down – this is the second reason. If you have trouble eating slowly, try eating with another person. The conversations you have make it easier to take breaks between bites, and think about the whole experience of eating, not just the food itself.