Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Habit-A-Week Challenge: Slow Down Your Eating

It's time for a new habit to work on for the Habit-A-Week Challenge. How's it going with the other habits? Keeping some of them, I hope? This project is cumulative. If you add one small new good habit each week, you'll have a LOT of great new habits by the end of the challenge that will help you be healthier and lose weight (if weight loss is your goal). So what are we up for this week?

Slow down your rate of eating. Please click here to read the challenge details, and then come back here to finish reading this post.


This is a really tough one for me! The fact is, I don't *feel* like I eat rapidly, but I do. It is very hard for me to slow down because it feels so unnatural. I have eaten quickly for as long as I can remember. I don't have any siblings, so it wasn't a feeding frenzy, but I still ate quickly. Whenever my parents would take me out to dinner when I was a kid, my mother and I would be finished with our food before my Dad even was halfway done. We literally had to sit and wait 20 minutes for him to complete his meal! We'd sit there, waiting, waiting, bored... while he methodically cut a piece of steak, put it in his mouth, put down his utensils as he chewed and enjoyed his bite, then took a sip of a drink or looked at the artwork on the wall or said something interesting or witty before picking up his knife and fork to cut another bite. He used to tell me it was rude to cut up all the meat on your plate at once as I was prone to do (so I could quickly scoop bites in my mouth without stopping to cut meat). My mother would roll her eyes and say, "WHY do you eat SO SLOWLY??" and he would finish chewing his bite, put down his utensils, dab his mouth with his napkin, place it back on his lap, and say, "I spent too many years gulping down my food without tasting it when I was in the army. In Korea and Vietnam we didn't have time to sit down and eat. It was a matter of life or death, and all we had time for was to get the food into our stomachs as quickly as possible so we could get back to war. No one is ever going to force me to swallow my food like that again. I am going to taste and enjoy my food." And with that, he'd pick his utensils back up and cut another bite of steak.

He had a point. And he did enjoy every bite of his food. I never saw my father eat to excess, although he usually finished what was on his plate. He never was fat. My mother, on the other hand, sucked down her food so fast you'd think a hurricane just blew through and took everything that was on her plate with it. And she was fat. Morbidly obese, and always on a diet. I guess I got my "speed of eating" from her, even though I was not fat until after I had two children.

It just seems so normal to me... the speed at which I eat. When I try to eat more slowly, putting down my fork between small bites, I *still* finish my food before everyone else at the table! And I feel like I am going in slow motion. I feel so self conscious when I slow down.

People (children, usually) have commented on my fast eating. When I had a little girl staying with us for a month last year, at our first dinner she stared at me and said, "WOW! You eat FAST! You must REALLY like that food!" I didn't *feel* like I was eating fast! My own daughter has made similar comments, such as "are you done with your food ALREADY?" and at the dinner table I am usually the first one done eating. In fact, when I sit down to lunch or breakfast with my daughter, I try very hard to eat slowly so we finish our meal at the same time, but I just can't seem to slow it down enough. I am always done five minutes or more before she is, even when I try and match her, bite for bite. I guess her bites are a lot smaller.

At her preschool, they serve a little snack of juice and crackers. When I have joined her for snack, I have been amazed at how much effort it takes for me to eat slowly. All the kids have 2 crackers on their plates. So do I. I sit there, I wait. When they all start to eat, so do I. And before I know it, my 2 crackers are GONE and I look around and not only do the kids still have one and a half crackers left, so does their teacher! I really need to work on this.

It's going to take a lot of effort, but I want to slow it down not only for my own enjoyment of food, but also to allow my body to tell me it is satisfied before I have crammed way too much into my body.

Let's make some positive changes this week!
(Oh, and by the way, the scale was down 2 pounds this morning, to 232).


Kellie said...

Chewing slowly and eating slowly is hard for me too. Most of the time I am in charge of fixing food plates for the kids, getting seconds for them, as well as drinks and drink refills.

Many times I find myself stuffing it all in so that I can focus on their needs at the dinner table.

I will certainly work on trying to change this one!!


Wencked said...

it is so funny that you should discuss this topic today. Just yesterday I was at a conference that served a lunch. At lunch I noted how much people had eaten in comparison to me. I was WAY ahead of everyone at my table! It really made me slow down and think about if I was really hungry for the rest or not.

MsMagnetism said...

I have this problem too. I think I attribute it to the fact that my parents always told me to 'Hurry up and eat before it gets cold' and the fact that my father inhales his food so quick it'll make your head spin. I eat fast but still not as fast as he does most of the time.

I to this day usually cut up all my meat first so I don't have to continue to stop and do it throughout the meal (cuz then it gets cold..lol)

I have found though that I eat slower with my son sitting beside me. With his weak muscle tone in his hand it's still hard for him to work a fork and a spoon really well, he can do it of course and does pretty good at first but after the first few minutes he'll go back to using his fingers because the gripping of the fork and spoon is too much.

With him sitting next to me I try to talk him into using his fork and spoon more. I'll even help him stab and scoop stuff onto his utensils so he can just pick them up and eat them once he gets tired. He's getting better and better but it's still taking time. After writing, cutting and such all day at school he just doesn't have the effort to put towards it I guess..

Anyways constantly stopping to help him, helps me eat slower. I still don't take as long as my son does to eat, he eats beyond slow. Takes him seriously an hour to eat his dinner. He will sit there for 40 minutes after everyone else is done still eating..But I always stay sitting with him, even if I'm already done. :0)

gingersnapper said...

I've always eaten slowly, but it's due to a small mouth and a large chest: if I'm not deliberate and careful I end up with half my dinner on my shirt. Seriously.

It's hard to change any kind of unconscious habit like that. I think your Dad would drive me crazy though :)

Benita said...

Congrats on the 2 pound weight loss this past week!

I, too, have trouble eating slowly, and my poor husband is even faster. I eat fast at work so I can sit and relax and knit, but I still feel hungry. You are right, time to slow down and taste the food I work so hard to prepare.

screwdestiny said...

I've always been a slow eater. It's just more natural for me to enjoy my food, the way you say your dad did. And it's great for portion control because I almost always feel that I'm getting full a little bit before I've finished my meal, so I stop. That "too full" feeling is just so unpleasant. And it is annoying when other people ask why I eat so slow. Uh, 'cause it's good to actually enjoy your food as opposed to shoveling it down as fast as possible.

rmslil said...

My goal is not to shove more food in my mouth before I have chewed and swallowed what was in there. It is a hard habit to break.

Julia said...

I'm a slow eater, hubby is normally finished before I am half thru.
I noticed when we moved here that a lot of people cut up there food and then eat it where we were taught to cut a piece, eat that and then cut the next piece.

spunkysuzi said...

This is definitely going to be a hard one for me!! I'm also trying to sit down at the kitchen table when i eat.

Steelers6 said...

*sigh* I am one of those slow eaters..guess my Mama taught me well. And as screwdestiny says, then I can tell when it is getting to be time to stop. I take very small bites; whenever my dh is giving me a taste from his plate, that "one bite" on the fork is like maybe 3 of mine? Really. And he absolutely inhales his food, which kind of grosses me out.

Unfortunately not all of my kids have learned MY 'eat slowly, put down your silverware, eat w/one hand tied behind you back-oh I mean in your lap', habits, some are emulating Dad...

And yes, I hear it is better manners to cut up just what one is planning to eat that particular bite, and break off a part of a roll and only butter just that piece..such slow going! haha

Good points Lyn, and great job on heading downward.. Chrissy

Chrissie said...

I think eating more slowly is a major part of feeling fuller with less food for me. I know its not exactly a huge innovation, but have you tried eating with chopsticks to slow yourself down (unless you're really good with chopsticks)? Obviously a bit embarrassing when eating in company so I wouldn't do it then, but if you tried that when eating at home it might help you adjust your speed, take smaller bits (because otherwise you'll keep dropping them LOL). I've tried it, I even ate a bowl of cornflakes with milk that way once, and it really helped!

Hanlie said...

I used to really wolf down my food, but have slowed up in recent years. Until I met Craig, I was the fastest eater I knew, but he beat me. We're both eating slower now and it definitely makes a difference.