Why you should eat slowly

If you’re anything like me, then you have a tendency to inhale most of your meals without even thinking. I KNOW I should eat slowly, but just because we KNOW what we should do doesn’t mean we do it!

Many of us are aware that eating slowly is a good idea. It gives our stomach that chance to ‘catch up’ and recognise that it is full, and can help avoid overeating. But did you also realise that you can eat slowly to burn more energy during digestion?

Eating slowly burns more energy during digestion

The discovery that eating slowly can increase the amount of energy burnt through digestion was a bit of a lightbulb moment to help me slow my eating pace (a bit).

Not only has eating slowly been shown to benefit weight loss (or maintenance), it can also increase the thermic effect of food (TEF). When you eat food, some of the energy that it contains is used to digest and absorb it.

This means that your body burns more energy while digesting the food you are eating. Foods with plenty of protein have a higher thermic effect of food and are harder to digest, meaning that your body has to put more effort into breaking it down.

How quickly are you eating?

We’ve all been there where we started snacking on something mindlessly and before we realised it the whole packet is gone.

Ignorance is bliss… but it can be seriously underminding us.

nutrition labels dietitian

By eating rapidly and mindlessly we are more likely to eat more than we planned (or wanted to) which could be subtly hindering us from achieving our nutrition and body composition goals.

This is where practicing intentional and mindful eating can help.

What can you do to eat more slowly?

I am yet to perfect the eating slowly approach, but I am working on it every day. Here are 5 tips to help us all to eat more slowly:

Remove distractions. Try not to eat on the move or while there are distractions like TV around you. Focus on enjoying the moment and what you are eating and practice mindfulness with your food.

Put the fork down. Putting the cutlery down between bites can prompt you to be more mindful, focus on chewing each mouthful and speak with others you share your meals with.

Have a (two-sided) conversation. Don’t let others steal all the conversation during a meal. Take intentional pauses between mouthfuls to continue your dinner table conversations and slow down your eating.

Chew more! Digestion starts in the mouth. You could try aiming for a minimum number of chews before swallowing each mouthful. Chew each mouthful well and swallow well before you reach for your fork again.

Eat with slow eaters. It’s common to change your eating speed to match those around you. If you have a friend who always seems to finish their meal 20 minutes behind you, try eating with them regularly. Their slower eating pace could influence you in slowing down your own eating pace.

Do you have other tips for how to eat slower and more mindfully? Share them in the comments below!

Happy training,



  • Zhu Y, Hollis JH. R (2015) Relationship between chewing behavior and body weight status in fully dentate healthy adults. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 66(2)135-139
  • Toyama, K et al (2015) The effect of fast eating on the thermic effect of food in young Japanese women. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 66(2) 140-147
  • Robinson E, et al (2014) A systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of eating rate on energy intake and hunger. Am J. Clin Nutr

Image adapted from ‘Tasty Pasta ‘ by Blake Burkhart Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). 

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