Does Your Food Pass the Fork Test? (and other ways to slow down your eating.)
Think about the last meal you had. How long did it take you to eat?
There's a good chance that you have no idea.
Mindless eating is a main reason why people gain weight, despite "not eating that much." Mindless eating is often done in haste, at "Passover speeds" (Exodus 12:11) and often involves less healthy foods.
One of the best ways to combat mindless eating is to slow down.
Slowing down your eating provides a number of benefits.
You'll Eat Less
It takes roughly 20-minutes for your stomach and your brain to communicate that you are full. If you are eating quickly, you increase your risk of eating more than you actually need. When you are paying attention, you'll be able to stop at satisfied instead of stuffed.
Your digestive tract is a long tube from your lips to your butt and each part of the process has a specific job to do.
The first step, chewing, helps to break food down and mixes it with enzymes in your saliva. If you are eating quickly, you likely aren't breaking down your food enough. This causes large pieces of food to go through your digestive system, leading to bloating, gas and bad poops.
When you aren't chewing your food enough, your body spends a lot of time working to break down your under-chewed food. The rest of your digestive system then needs to work harder to break down your food more. This requires extra energy that is pulled from other functions.
By slowing down and chewing your food more, the rest of your digestive system will have an easier time breaking down the food and extracting the nutrients.
If you are trying to slow down, here are some practical tips you can try:
Limit distractions. It's difficult to be mindful when your mind is being distracted by TV or your phone. By turning off external stimuli you'll be able to pay closer attention to your food and how it's making you feel.
The fork test. Chew your food until it is soft enough that it could be squished by a fork.
Count your chews. At your next meal, count the number of chews before you feel the urge to swallow. See if you can chew your food 20-30 times before swallowing.
Put your fork down. I've often found myself reloading while I'm still working on chewing food. While you are working on chewing, put your fork down. Don't let yourself load up for another bite until you've swallowed what you're working on.
Set a timer. When you sit down to eat, set a timer for 20-minutes. Use the timer to pace your eating - half your food should be gone at around 10-minutes, and you should be finishing up around the 20-minute mark. If you finish before the 20-minutes is up, wait until it expires before you go for seconds. Speaking of seconds...
Wait on seconds. From the time you are done your last bite, set another 20-minute timer. If you're genuinely hungry (you're not) you'll still be hungry in 20-minutes. If you're not hungry (again, you're not) you can get on with your day without unnecessary calories.
Enjoy good fellowship. One of the best ways to enjoy food is with others. Engaging in conversation is a great way to slow things down.