The USDA just came out with their report called “How Much Time Do Americans Spend on Food?” They used data from the 2006-2008 Economic Research Service “Eating and Health Module of the American Time Use Survey”. They were trying to determine how much time Americans spend on eating and other food-related experiences, such as grocery shopping and meal preparation.
On an average day, Americans age 15 and older spent 23.5 minutes eating and 63 minutes drinking beverages (except water) while doing something such as watching television, driving, or working. A meager 11 percent of the population spent at least 4.5 hours for the same activities.
Let’s think about that 23.5 minutes a day eating. Assuming that three meals a day are eaten, that means most Americans are woofing down their food in each meal in 7 minutes. No wonder we have an obesity problem in the United States. It takes at least 20 minutes for the first bite of food to pass through the stomach and onto the intestines where chemicals are released to tell the brain that food is on its way.
If you’re getting your whole meal eaten in 7 minutes, it’s inevitable that you’re going to eat more. You haven’t given your body time to tell you how much it really needs. Whatever you’ve got on the plate will be eaten and probably then some because without those chemical signals, you won’t know you’ve had enough. You’ll keep eating until your stomach becomes so stretched with the volume of food that that signal is finally sent to the brain.
Tricks to Eating Slower
- Use some timing device that helps you slow down the pace. Whatever you put in your mouth, chew thoroughly. So thoroughly, that it’s almost in a liquid state before you swallow - a process called Flectcherization after Horace Fletcher (1849–1919). He was an American healthfood faddist who was dubbed “The Great Masticator” because he believed that food should be chewed for as long as it took to pulverize it all.
- Put your fork down after each bit. It keeps you from shoveling food into your mouth until that which you’ve just eaten is swallowed.
- Try using chopsticks to eat with. If you’re not proficient at the use of chopsticks, it should slow you down. You can also consider using a demi-tasse spoon and a cocktail fork. Can’t load those up with a lot of food.
- Learn to enjoy the pleasure of eating. When you go on vacation and are having a great time, don’t you hate it when you know you’ll have to be going home the next day? Think of food the same way. If you’re enjoying it, why would you want to hurry the process?
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