I hope you have had some practice at eating without distractions. If you haven’t mastered the step yet, not to worry. You can practice eliminating distractions while adding step 2 to mindful eating as well.
Have you ever heard that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize that your stomach is full? I always thought that was an old wives tale passed down from generation to generation, but with no truth to it. How can my body instantly feel pain when I touch something hot, but it take a whole 20 minutes to realize I’m full? It didn’t make sense to me. But, that fun fact is actually true!
The reason is your body needs to break down the food in the digestive system a bit before it can send signals to your brain. The digestive system breaks down the food you are eating, and certain nutrients trigger hormones to travel from your intestines to your brain to signify you are full. This process can take up to 20 minutes.
Many of us eat quickly for a few reasons:
1) We let ourselves get too hungry. We are too busy doing other things to stop and eat and before we know it we are starving – so we eat a lot of food very fast.
2) We just don’t have the time to eat. We have to fit our meals into our crazy schedules, and that may mean quickly downing a bagel in the car on the way to work, grabbing a sandwich and eating it while typing emails at work, and then scarfing some chicken and vegetables for dinner while taking care of the kids, feeding the dog, and cleaning the kitchen.
By eating too fast, we do not allow our bodies to let us know when we’ve had enough food. We just eat and eat and then all of a sudden we are stuffed – too full!
Slowing down your eating process can help you avoid overeating. Meals should last at least 20 minutes up to 1 hour. A good goal to strive towards is 30 minutes to complete a meal.
So your challenge this week is to slow down while you eat, while keeping your meals distractionless. Try to set aside 20 to 30 minutes for at least one meal per day, preferably more, to eat. If you are only able to do this for one meal, make it your biggest meal of the day. You will be surprised that you don’t need to eat as much as your normally do to feel full.