We've heard this before, but now new research from the University of Rhode Island confirms that how fast you nosh impacts how much you consume. Scientists have recently found the following:
1. Fast eaters gobble about 3.1 ounces of food per minute, medium-speed eaters 2.5 ounces per minute, and slow eaters 2 ounces per minute.
2. Men eat significantly faster than women: Men consumed about 80 calories per minute compared to 52 calories per minute for women.
3. Refined grains, like white bread and rice are gobbled down faster than their whole grain counterparts (probably because whole grains take longer to chew).
4. People with high BMIs ate considerably faster than those with low BMIs.
This latest research is a follow-up to a previous study, which found that women who were told to eat quickly down 646 calories in nine minutes, but when the same group of women were told to slow down, stop between bites, and chew 15 to 20 times before swallowing, their intake dropped to 579 calories in 29 minutes— a huge difference.
With my clients, I practice slow eating. We'll take a food that's easy to eat slowly, like blueberries, chocolate chips, or popcorn, place it in a bowl or plate in front of us, take a few deep breaths, work through a progressive relaxation exercise, then slowly eat one piece at a time. The goal is to pay attention to the taste, texture and even aroma in just one single berry, chip, or flake (the technical term for popped popcorn), and pause between each one. It feels awkward, and it's definitely exaggerated, but this type of exercise can help raise your awareness enough to catch yourself eating too fast, and can help you gradually ease into a slower pattern, kind of like yoga for eating.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and . Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.