Yes you read the headline right! I know diets are usually all about what you can't eat, but what if I told you you could lose weight WITHOUT changing anything about what you’re eating!
Who’s up for a little experiment? What have you got to lose....
This experiment will focus on HOW you eat and not what you eat. For the next 30 days I want you to eat slowly and mindfully. Yep, it’s that simple. No weighing out food or following a meal plan.
Eating slowly is one of the core practices I teach my clients. It can be the single most powerful habit for driving a change in the way you look and feel. I’ve had clients surprised at the results they got, just from doing this one thing. They slept better, felt more energetic, less bloated and their clothes got looser. Some also felt this helped solve their digestive issues.
When it comes to eating better most of us worry about the finer details, like ‘should I eat paleo, or do keto’ or ‘I mustn’t eat potatoes’. We’ve been conditioned to think about WHAT we eat, not HOW we eat.
Now don’t get me wrong, you will have trouble losing weight with a diet full of junk food or if you eat way over the amount of calories you burn. And food choices and portion sizes etc are all important. But for those who eat fairly well and struggle to shift weight, eating slowly and mindfully can actually be more important than what you eat, when you eat it, and getting everything else perfect. It's the easiest way anyone can start losing weight and feeling better quickly! From there you can always fine tune the details.
So why is this so effective? Well, there have been many studies done that relate the speed at which we eat a meal to the amount of calories we eat. For example, one study asked 30 people of normal weight to eat the same lunch on two different days. At both meals, participants were told to eat until comfortably full, but they were asked to eat lunch 1 as quickly as possible and lunch 2 slowly, putting utensils down between every bite.
The results showed that when you eat a meal quickly (in this particular study - 9 minutes on average) participants consume on average 646 calories. When the same people ate the second lunch, taking longer than 20 minutes to eat the meal, they consumed an average of 570 calories.
So, the slow eaters ate 76 fewer calories. What’s more, it also took them longer to feel hungry again afterwards.
Why does this happen? There are two main reasons:
1. It takes about 20 minutes for your body’s satiety signals to kick in. Slow eating gives this time to work, allowing you a better sense of when you’ve had enough.
2. When you slow down and really savour your meal, you tend to feel satisfied with less and feel less deprived.
This effect, spread across every meal, could add up to hundreds of calories saved over the course of the day! Sounds good, right!?
SO WHAT DO I DO? HOW DO I EAT SLOWLY?
Eating slowly is effective, but not necessarily easy. I’m going to give you a couple of different levels to work through. If you like, you can try them for just one meal a day at level 1 to start with and work from there.
1. Take a bite
2. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly until small enough to swallow.
3. Take a breath and pause.
4. Then take another bite and repeat.
For most people, this will involve a hell of a lot more chewing then they usually do. Don’t panic at the idea of ‘wasting time’, or the sound of crunching. Time how long it takes you to eat a meal then add a minute on each time (or more than a minute if you’re feeling confident about it). Make it a game and stretch that meal out as long as you can. You can even use an app like 20 minute eating.
When you’re confident with level 1, add in the following boundaries.
1. Sit at a table to eat. So no eating whilst driving, standing or on the move!
2. Don’t eat while you watch TV, work, play with your phone or whatever else you normally do while you eat.
3. Try to relax and experience your meal.
The whole point here is to pay attention to your food and how you feel. Do your best to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions. And don’t forget, this is in addition to the steps in level 1, not instead of.
Pacing yourself is easier when you have specific actions to break up mouthfuls of food so try some of the following:
· Put down your knife and fork in between each bit.
· Take several deep breaths.
· Take a sip of water.
· Ask someone at the table a question.
Savour your food. Enjoy it and really taste it. Notice details with each bite e.g. is it salty, sweet, what’s the texture like? A bit like wine tasting your food!
Practice this for 30 days and see what results you get. I’d love to hear how this worked for you so please get in touch.