How slowly WOULD you have to eat to lose weight?

Published on Wed Mar 10 16:52:00 UTC 2010
Brierley Wright

I’m one of those people who lives to eat. I’m also a fast eater, or so I’ve been told. Put those together and that’s a recipe for overeating. (The next time you eat too much, try one of these 3 antidotes to overeating.)

It’s wishful—and unrealistic—to think that I’ll become someone who eats only to live, but surely eating slower would be wise. But how slow should I be eating?

Twenty minutes! That’s how long it takes for your body to register fullness. And according to a University of Rhode Island study, you can save 70 calories by eating slowly over about half an hour versus in under 10 minutes (my usual!). If you ate slower at every meal, that would translate into losing about two pounds a month. (Are you obsessed with food? Take this quiz.)

I don’t expect to transform into a slow(er) eater overnight, so here are some other tricks that I’ve picked up to slim down:

Use a smaller plate: As serving sizes have increased, so have plate sizes—and seeing appropriately sized portions swimming on a giant plate can make you feel like you're not getting much food. Put your food on smaller dishes and put your drinks in smaller glasses. Click here to find out what size plate, bowl and glass you should downsize to.

Start your meal with soup or salad: Filling up on fiber- and water-rich foods first can help prevent you from overdoing high-calorie fare later. Research out of Penn State shows that eating a first-course salad can reduce overall calorie intake at a meal by up to 12 percent. And in another study, people who started lunch with vegetable soup ended up eating 20 percent less than those who skipped the soup. (Find delicious, healthy salad and dressing recipes here. And soup recipes here.)

Turn off the TV: Have all your meals in a designated place without distractions. That turns eating into an event with a beginning and an end. Making an effort to be mindful no matter what you’re eating can help break the tendency to binge, experts say.

Chew more. Chewing more curbs hunger, suggests recent research.  Study participants chewed a 2-ounce serving of almonds 10, 25 or 40 times—and those who chewed 40 times felt fuller longer. Why? Chewing more may cause more fat to be released from the almonds, which triggers hormones that curb hunger.

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