My tip for today comes from France – specifically Mireille Guiliano’s book “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” As a side note, let me say that there are lots of great recipes, but the easiest and most effective tip I found in the book was to eat s-l-o-w-l-y.
In general, American culture moves fast. Compared to the rest of the world we are like road runners, zipping around, talking fast and eating fast. Maybe it’s because a lot of what we eat doesn’t really taste that great, but we are known for rushing through our meals.
The French, and many other cultures, see meals as a leisure activity, a chance to talk and share good food slowly (very, very, slowly compared to Americans). The side benefit to slow eating is a much lower rate of obesity despite consuming lots of foods that are on the American diet no-no list.
And there is science behind this phenomenon to explain how it works. The signals from your stomach, telling whether it is full or not, take about 10 minutes to process and reach the brain so it can tell your mouth to stop eating. When your entire meal only takes 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish, you are usually over-full before the message arrives.
In order to eat really slowly so you can have delicious real food and still stay slim, you need two things: time and new habits. First, you need to set time aside to eat. 30 min. is good for breakfast, and at least an hour to an hour and a half for lunch and dinner. (Side note: in many of these countries, lunch is also the biggest meal of the day, another GREAT idea for another TFS Wednesday).
Now that you have time, start eating your meal one bite at a time. Literally. Take one small bite of food, put it in your mouth, set your fork down, chew it completely, swallow it, then pick up your fork and get one more small bite of food. It’s a game at first, because it’s not most people’s normal way of eating, but it can become a habit with time. And the one bite at a time rule works for all sorts of foods. Popcorn is a favorite of mine, especially movie popcorn. Chew one piece, completely, swallow it, then take another piece.
I also talked about using this technique when I wrote my love sonnet to chocolate. Try to eat small pieces of chocolate (like M&M size) by letting them melt in your mouth, one by one, not putting another piece in till the one before is completely gone.
Hopefully, this style of eating will have several positive results. You should lose weight because you will be eating less. You should enjoy your food more because you will be taking the time to taste it instead of inhaling it. And you might learn a lot more about those you eat with as you make time for conversation. Which could be a good thing . . . or not.