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If Only We Chew Like Our Kids!

Photo by: The Raggy Rat

Now that our son can share many of our adult foods, we’re getting into the habit of eating meals together. It encourages him to try new foods and forces us to choose healthy options. After all, he wants to eat what we do.

One day while we were having sandwiches for lunch, it struck me how slow he eats. I was finishing mine at a speed of light compared to him. Granted I have a full set of adult teeth and he only has 8, it was still amazing how fast I could go through my sandwich.

Which makes wonder. What if I eat as fast as he does all the time? What if I chew my food as thoroughly as he does all the time?

You’ve probably heard that eating your meal slowly will make you feel full. You probably wonder if this is really true.

Yes, it is.

One study brought in healthy women between 18 and 48 years old. One half was instructed to eat a meal as fast as they could, and the other half to take their time by eating small bites, putting down the fork, and chewing each bite 20 to 30 times.

Fast eaters consumed more calories and less water. They were also less pleased with their meal and felt less full. Fast eaters finished in 9 minutes, on average, compared to 29 minutes for slow eaters.

We are a culture used to and encouraged to eat fast. Fast-food is our biggest problem. Restaurants rush your meal so they use the table with new guests and make more green. We have short lunch breaks and long commutes. We are always in a hurry and don’t have that much time to prepare let alone eat our food.

The result: we’re eating more calories, fast, and not getting satisfied or even enjoying a single bite.

Does that seem like a precursor to craving more and more food?

My husband travels often to England for work and he made a quite interesting observation. When he goes out with his co-workers for dinner, the restaurant expects them use the table for the rest of the night. They take their time to eat, enjoy their meal, and leave satisfied.

In the study, the women who ate slow took in 66 calories less in the meal. It doesn’t seem much when you first think about it,but at 3 meals a day, times 365 days a year, it’s 72,270 calories. That’s about a 20-pound weight loss without even trying. Isn’t it better than the cabbage soup?

Tips to Eat Slow

  • Take small bites
  • Use a small fork
  • Put the fork on the table in between bites
  • Chew each bite 20 to 30 times
  • Drink water
  • Talk to someone (which also means: leave your desk, computer, work, and socialize!)
  • Eat foods that needs chewing. Broccoli comes to my mind!

And the tip that got me thinking at the first place:

  • Match the speed of your child. Not applicable? Find the slowest eater in your group and match him/her.

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  • Siba December 28, 2009, 7:01 pm

    I was just thinking today, while my son was swallowing Tortellini, of how to make him chew instead! He swallows stew, pasta and some other food. I tell him to chew with his teeth, he has 10 or more, but he chews only a few bites then completely ignores me! I cut food in small pieces to compensate but I am still not happy. Any advice?

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD December 30, 2009, 10:24 pm

      While it’s never too early to teach our kids eating and table manners, we shouldn’t expect too much of them! That’s why parents need to be careful of foods with choking hazards up until the child is 5 years old.

      Cut his food into small pieces, and make sure it’s soft. Keep talking to him–he will eventually get it!

      Nour