Pace Controls Portions

Man and Woman at home eating in a hurryHere’s an appetizer of common sense before we get into the meat of this article. If you have weight to be lost, you are most likely consuming more than your body requires for energy. But here’s the problem. The amount you eat is the amount you are hungry for. Therefore the amount you are hungry for is greater than your calorie burn rate.

Right? That’s easy math. And the solution to this little equation is to be able to eat all you want, but have that amount be equal to the amount your body needs.

Bear in mind that the amount of food your body asks for is only partly determined by how many calories you have burned during your day. It is also driven by how fast you eat your meal. The faster you eat your food, the more you will be hungry for.

The reason for this has to do with what’s going on in your brain. Certain hormones are generated in your body as you eat, and signal to your brain that you are full. The problem is that they take about 15 minutes to be perceived by your brain.

Because of this delay, when you eat very quickly, you can actually be full but (because of the signal delay up to your brain) you won’t perceive the signal yet. In other words, you overrun the signal when you gobble your turkey, and this creates overconsumption.

Bottom line? Pace controls portions.

A delicious way to control eating pace is to — and this is totally crazy — taste your food. You may read that and think, of course I’m tasting my food, it’s in my mouth isn’t it? But remember that your taste buds are only at your tongue. So when you take gigantic bites most of it never gets tasted, only swallowed.

Also, when you inhale your meal in 2 minutes as if speed-eating were an Olympic sport, the food doesn’t spend enough time on your tongue to be tasted anyway. This advice sounds so simple, but it turns out that this can actually help you control overconsumption.

Man Tasting SauceReally tasting your food is an aspect of eating mindfully which, when you practice this practice, causes a number of things happen. A focus on flavor leads you to choose higher quality foods, which naturally have the lower sugars and higher fiber content that create satiety in your body.

But this approach also causes you to slow down your eating pace while you enjoy your food. A slower pace allows your brain to sense that you are full before overeating. Finally, mindful eating engages a neural reflex called sensory specific satiety. This means that when you taste something completely, your brain temporarily turns down the cravings for that flavor.

Slow down your eating pace, taste your food, and see how this changes how much your body is hungry for.

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