It’s true that speedy eaters tend to consume more food and as a result are more likely to gain weight than people who eat more slowly. Researchers from the UK’s University of Roehampton and University of Bristol recently investigated the reasons behind speedy eating. They noted that children with siblings tend to eat faster, especially if they must compete for available food. And they may carry the habit into adulthood.
Researcher Leigh Gibson, Ph.D., of London’s University of Roehampton noted that the sibling connection “might be due to competition for food at meals, whether real or imagined, or even a wish to finish a meal more quickly to return to playing with siblings.” Another possibility suggested by Dr. Gibson: the presence of siblings at meals “could distract from a focus on eating, which could lead to a faster eating rate.” However, Dr. Gibson noted that prior studies have shown that people without siblings seem more vulnerable to developing obesity than people with siblings.
One reason why people eat more when they eat fast is that our bodies don’t immediately recognize when we begin to feel full. To change your habits, you simply need to make a conscious effort to eat more slowly. Also, plan on spending at least 20 minutes per meal, which should help you to feel satisfied. Another trick: put your fork down before each mouthful. Sipping water after each bite can help, too, as can chewing each mouthful from 20 to 30 times (depending on what you’re eating). Changing eating habits isn’t rocket science, but it does require attention and effort.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
T. Ohkuma et al, “Association between eating rate and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” International Journal of Obesity, November 2015 doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.96.
Pey Sze Teo et al, “Combined impact of a Faster-Self-reported Eating Rate and Higher Dietary Energy Intake Rate on Energy Intake and Adiposity. Nutrients, October 25, 2020, doi.org/10.3390/nu12113264. DOI: 10.3390/nu12113264