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Are You Eating Too Fast?

When you were a kid, scarfing down your lunch so you could leave the table and go back to playtime, did your mother ever tell you to slow down? If so, it turns out (unsurprisingly) that she was right. Eating too fast can lead to overeating and weight gain, not to mention digestive issues. Gobbling down your food too fast may even contribute to the development of metabolic conditions.

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In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers found that participants consumed fewer calories during a meal where they ate slowly.  Slowing down your meals does all sorts of good things for your body, including causing you to eat less. Eating slowly creates actual biochemical changes that make you less inclined to overeat.

Here’s what else research shows about taking more time to eat your meal:

Prolonged chewing helps prevent diabetes

Prolonged chewing at lunch decreases later snack intake

The more you chew, the less nutrients are lost

Longer chewing results in fewer calories being consumed and more favorable levels of appetite-regulating hormones that tell your brain when to stop eating

Eating more slowly decreases food intake and increases satiety

Eating until you’re full and eating quickly triples your risk of becoming overweight. That’s because when you eat quickly, your body doesn't have the time to go through its natural signaling process, which involves a variety of hormones and feedback loops between your gut and your brain.

These hormones tell you when you've had adequate food, and they’re produced while you're eating, but it takes a bit of time for this to occur. If you eat too quickly, you can easily overeat before your body has a chance to signal that you've had enough.

Most people chew and swallow their food without thinking about it — it's almost an unconscious reflex. Inadequate chewing shortchanges your nutrition, because digestion begins in your mouth. The chewing process is actually an extremely important step in digestion, making it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from food particles as they pass through.

So how many chews is enough? Most studies seem to top out at 40 chews per bite. Ultimately, savoring your food and everything it brings will undoubtedly benefit your mind, body and spirit!