The Benefits of Eating Slow While Losing Weight

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I really do love all things chocolate. As embarrassing as this is, if you gave me the choice between blueberries and chocolate cake, I would really want to choose the cake.

Don’t worry – this post isn’t just about the wonders and benefits of chocolate, but about really learning to savor and enjoy the foods you love.

Have you ever eagerly looked forward to eating a certain food? Maybe it’s not chocolate that does it for you, but some other confection or savory food that you always look forward to eating.

What happens to you when you think about having that particular food? Can you almost taste it or smell it even before you even pick it up? If you are at a restaurant or the mall, do the smells of Asian food, cinnamon buns, or pizza figuratively call your name?

One thing I learned about myself as I was losing my weight, was that I did not have to completely give up the foods that I really liked. I learned that I could still enjoy some chocolate without eating an entire brownie pan, a whole pack of chocolate cookies, or even a large bag of M&M’s.

How? I learned to anticipate the taste, savor the experience, and really taste the food.

In my fat days, I don’t think I really tasted much of the food I ate. I was so busy shoveling it in, that I didn’t appreciate the textures, the sensations or the flavors of the foods I was eating. Even though I was primarily the person who cooked in my family, and I took quite a bit of time making tasty (although often fattening) dinners, I ate so fast that even I couldn’t have described the flavor of the chicken and dumplings or spaghetti in detail if you had asked me.

And if I couldn’t describe the meal because I ate it so fast, I certainly couldn’t describe the taste of the 15th cookie I had just consumed. As I lost weight, I knew that I didn’t want to cut chocolate, or some of my other favorite foods out of my life. So instead of getting rid of them completely, I determined to savor them.

For me this involved slowing everything down a little bit and changing the way I purchased foods. Instead of grabbing a handful of chocolate and shoving it in my mouth and then reaching my hand in the bag for more before I had even swallowed the first mouthful, I took one at a time.

I still remember sitting in my kitchen during my weight loss year holding a single piece of chocolate in my hand and putting it in my mouth. I took my time and really tasted the chocolate. I enjoyed that piece so much more when I savored it. I mentally compared how I felt when I ate slowly to when I inhaled my food. The best part? The taste stayed with me longer.

There is a book out called French Women Don’t Get Fat, which gives similar advice. The book recommends that we all need to savor our food, and enjoy it to its fullest. As I tried this, I was surprised how quickly I was satisfied, not only from a physical hunger point of view, but from an emotional standpoint as well.

The truth is, food is wrapped up in emotions for many of us, myself included. I didn’t eat too many pieces of chocolate candy, and dozens of chocolate cookies because I was physically hungry – but rather because of an emotional need. By slowing down, and really taking the time to taste my food, both treats and not, I was able to soothe the emotional hunger, while at the same time satisfying the physical hunger.

If you haven’t ever tried this technique, I’d encourage you to try it next time you eat. Especially if you are eating a high calorie food or a food that is an indulgence for you.

A special note about indulgence foods: If you are going to eat it, tell yourself, “Okay, I can have this planned indulgence, but I’m going to eat it slowly and savor it.”  Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can’t eat twelve Oreos slowly and say to me, “But Diane, I enjoyed every slow bite!” Try it the right way and with foods that are good for you, and see if it helps you satisfy both the emotional and the physical hunger.

Have you ever tried this technique? Diane


  1. says

    I am using cognitive therapy techniques to help me stick to my healthy diet and one thing I am working on is not reading while I eat – to concentrate on savouring the food as I eat it. The only time I have strayed from my plan and had a mini-binge in the evening is when I got rebellious and read a book during dinner. My stomach may have got as full either way, but my brain wasn’t satisfied with what I’d eaten because I hardly even noticed it. It really makes a difference to emotional-hunger levels.

    And I had to ask myself, why am I trying to distract myself from what I am eating anyway? Don’t I profess to love food? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to shovel it in while focussing on something else. Yet it is still a struggle for me every day.
    Natalie recently posted…So tiredMy Profile

  2. says

    This technique is gold! I’m with you- I inhaled my food rather than are it at my larger size. I tell my fans about the 3-bite rule. By the 3rd bite of anything, the taste is not as enjoyable. Bite-size can give more pleasure than king-size!
    On a similar note, my sister once lost 20 pounds by chewing each bite 30 times :)
    Jennifer recently posted…Can you Pray Yourself Thin?My Profile

    • Sharon S says

      Re: Jennifer and the Three Bites…….I read many years ago about the “Three Bite Rule”, which basically says that by the third bite you are no longer actually tasting the food, but eating on the memory of the taste of the food. I have no idea where I read it, but that point has stuck with me….of course it doesn’t make a difference when I am inhaling food!!!!!!

  3. says

    Thanks for this great SAVORING advice. I had been using this technique with food SOMETIMES, I now realize. I routinely buy a large bar of dark Lindt chocolate with sea salt. It is delicious. Two squares is 90 calories. I have a couple squares a couple times a week, and really savor those little chocolate squares. I used to wolf down a Snickers bar without even tasting it. I’m going to try this “savor” thing with all of my eating. Perhaps it will help with portion control?!
    Pam recently posted…100 Happy Days — Days 45-49My Profile

  4. Martha G says

    A nutritionist once told me that there is always a “last bite” so think about that as you are eating more then one cookie….let that cookie be your last bite. Works for me most of the time.

  5. says

    Yes, this makes a huge difference for me. Actually, more than that – when I’ve been eating the right things and avoiding all the junk, when I did then have some it often tasted very differently to me. I found out there were things I didn’t even LIKE, and others that I really did. I also found that you only have the ability to really taste and appreciate it for a limited amount of time (I read that this is the brain signaling it’s done and you’ve had enough, it shuts the taste buds down a bit.) That made me want to taste the food I was picking, so I got picky. If I ate something I didn’t really want as much as the other things first, I realized when I had the thing I wanted I couldn’t taste it the way I was supposed to. I was able to whittle down the junk easily that way, because some things were worth it, and others stole from the experience and enjoyment when I did have them. :)
    Kyra recently posted…Sweet SixteenMy Profile

  6. Janis says

    I’m a outlier here — I’m thin and I bolt my food. Constantly. It’s a combination of hating when it gets cold and wanting to get the eating over with so I can get back to whatever it was I was doing before I had to stop and eat. I think my appetite shuts off strongly enough when full (and I eat infrequently enough) that I can get away with it, though. I love good food, but I often think of cooking and eating as interruptions of more interesting activities.

  7. says

    I have a tendency to eat fast, and I consciously focus on slowing down every time I sit down to eat. While I have been gotten a lot better over the years, it’s still something I need to pay attention to every day…

    I read French Women Don’t Get Fat years ago, and I really like the strategies in the book.

    I like chocolate, too, and I have a small piece of dark chocolate most days. When you take the time to truly taste and savor it, a little piece is completely satisfying.
    Andrea@WellnessNotes recently posted…Active Getaway to Avila BeachMy Profile

  8. says

    I’ve always been a slow eater so speed has never been the problem. However, I have often been a ‘mindless’ eater – just eating without tasting. This was especially the case when I would eat junk food. Part of it was that thinking about food would always fill me with anxiety. I had such a negative relationship with food that I just didn’t want to think of it. Now, as I learn to love my food and enjoy the flavors, eating is such an enjoyable experience. Not being afraid of food was truly liberating!
    PlumPetals recently posted…Saying Goodbye and Saying HelloMy Profile

  9. says

    I used to be a super slow eater as a child. I still remember being at a friend’s house for dinner one night and everyone waiting for me, rather impatiently so. This was before I went on my first diet at 14, that changed everything. My husband, although obese as well, eats very slowly and savours his food. But that doesn’t keep him from eating too much of it :( But you have inspired me to add this technique to my routine, especially as we are making a point of eating at the table most of the time (as opposed to in front of the TV or computer). Thank you!
    Kerstin recently posted…new habits and monday check-inMy Profile

  10. says

    Many years ago I read books by Geneen Roth that helped me look at things very differently.

    I do very much agree that mindful eating is improtant for everyone. And gratitude.

    I practice all ths time. Sometimes I am very good and rememner to do this. Sometimes I forget and have to come back to it. My husband is a VERY fast eater. I will sometimes really notice that and it is a trigger to notice my own self.

    When I am being really in the moment I will take a pause while eating, take a purposeful breath and be aware of what is going on around me.

    Thank you for the reminder.

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