In a house with children, dinners are often peppered with comments such as “Finish chewing before you swallow,” “Slow down; this isn’t a race,” and “You’d think you haven’t eaten in days.” A mother’s all-too-common, mealtime mission is to slow down her child’s frantic pace, in the hope of preventing choking. No one, after all, wants to witness a gag or the Heimlich maneuver in between bites. However, the 24-chew rule has more benefits than warding off a CPR demonstration. It also keeps you healthy.
Taking your time when eating means you’ll have more opportunities to savor every bite. You’ll actually taste the food as it hits your tongue and rediscover an enjoyment that disappeared with the arrival of your shovel. Your occasional don’t-tell-my-diet indulgences will be more likely to satisfy the first time. You won’t need the second (or fifth) piece of candy. You also won’t want that final bite, because you’ll be more aware that you’re satisfied. Since it takes the body a full 20 minutes to recognize satiety, devouring the whole dish in a matter of seconds rather than minutes means you never know that you were full eight forkfuls ago. Slowing down will naturally limit the calories you consume and keep your stomach happy, longer.
The problem is figuring out how to do it. Years of rapid fire face-stuffing can’t be reversed with a simple decision. You’re going to need some help. If you’re in the United Kingdom, you can rely on the mandometer (also known as your mother in a computer). It’s a machine that tracks your eating pace and yells at you when you spoon too quickly. It will tell you when you’ve had enough and question whether or not you’re full should you continue eating. Sound delightful? I’m sure it does. But it’s not marketed internationally. So if you’re not in the United Kingdom, as most of us aren’t, you’re out of luck. You could reap the same rewards by eating at your mom’s house more often, or you could work the following tips into your meals and teach yourself to breathe between bites:
• Chew – it sounds obvious, but a quick mashing of the teeth doesn’t qualify as chewing. You actually want to work your jaw, giving it a little exercise. This will slow you down and, as a bonus, aid in digestion.
• Put down your fork – after sliding the morsel from the tines, place the silverware back on the table. This will visually signal you to take a moment between bites.
• Have water – it’s not clear whether a glass of water will actually limit how much you eat, but sipping will take away from shoveling.
• Have dinner with another human being – the idea here is that by conversing during your meal, your consumption pace will lessen. Of course, this will only work if you both have something to say, so have an interesting day first.