Having survived the holiday season in one piece, hopefully without too many added bits, I'm sure most readers are focused on some sort of resolution. The usual suspects are to stop smoking, stop drinking, eat healthier, exercise more and be better with your money. Well, I can help with a few of those.
If you're not aware, allow me a shameless self-promotion. I've been writing a weekly article for The Wilson Post for a few months now. So if you're looking for more tips on healthy eating, getting the right mentality and all things health that happen to spill out of my brain, make sure to pick up a copy each week.
But now that you're here, I want to share an extremely effective tip. It's seemingly simple to understand, but can be a little difficult to pick up - especially in today's go-go-GO! world. This month, I'd like to tell you to slow it down, quite literally.
I've applied this concept with myself and clients in many different aspects, from slowing down their speed on weight-lifting reps to slowing down and enjoying life before it passes us by. But this time I'd like to discuss slowing it down when we eat.
There are a number of beneficial things to keep in mind when it comes to slowing down our daily contests of "shovel all the food into your mouth while you watch TV and play on your smartphone while posting on Facebook." What? You didn't think you were the only one, did you?
The first thing I'd like to share is that it generally takes 15 to 20 minutes for our stomachs to signal our brains that we're full. What does this mean for you? This means that if you're eating too fast, you'll only feel full once you've engulfed that third double cheeseburger and side order of fries. We have to be able to slow down to give our body time to catch up with our food.
I've read studies that have shown an average fast food meal taking around 10 to 15 minutes, but a sit-down dinner taking closer to 30 minutes. That time matters.
It's no coincidence that sitting down to eat with the family, something that seems to be a disappearing pastime, can provide benefits beyond catching up with each other. When we sit down, actually talk between bites, set down our utensils and enjoy our company, we not only connect with one another, but we greatly reduce the chances of overeating.
In addition to reducing the amount of food we eat, simply taking your time allows you to increase the enjoyment of the meal. Ask yourself, when was the last time you actually tasted your food? When you slow down, you realize the textures of the foods, healthy foods taste better and junk foods don't taste quite as good. They almost taste ... synthetic. Mmmmm, that's an appetizing adjective for your next meal, synthetic! Bon appetit!
So by slowing down, you'll eat less, you'll enjoy food more ... awesome! So far, I'm with ya, Andy! What else ya got? Well, by eating less, you'll do what? Any guesses? Anyone? Anyone? That's right! You'll lose weight.
Oftentimes in our society of speed, we go too long without food. This causes our blood sugar to start to crash, which in turn causes us to get hungrier, crankier and more tired. So when we finally do get to eat, we scarf it down, and we scarf down too much. This causes a big spike in our blood sugar, even if it's a healthy meal. That big spike leads to a big insulin spike which leads to a big yearning for a power nap. That midday snooze you crave? Yeah, that can be caused by the fact that you're not eating, or that you're eating way too much. Balance!
As a secondary benefit, many times people with heartburn or indigestion, or even issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn's, have seen improvements in their symptoms. The act of slowing down gives their digestive systems time to prepare and properly digest the food before it's blindsided by a greasy blob of a messy mass.
WOW! Suffer less, eat less food, enjoy it more, have more energy and lose more weight! I'm sold! What do I have to do? Umm ... just, um, just eat slower. Like I said, the concept is simple, but the practice is not always easy. I work with many nurses, doctors, executives and other professionals who simply don't think they have time to eat a slow meal. I get it. I'm a busy guy, too. Which is why I know it's completely possible to make this work.
It may not be entirely evident to begin with, but if you take time to look at your day, you can find or free up 20 minutes to sit down and eat a proper meal. Make it work for you, and you'll notice a huge difference. If something is important to you, you'll find a way; if it's not, you'll find an excuse. Don't allow your circumstances to dictate your health.
I hope everyone had a great holiday season! Make those resolutions work for you by turning them into measurable goals. Make 2016 YOUR year. Start it off strong by slowing it down and reap the benefits. Until next month, enjoy your life, take your time, enjoy your food and live fresh!
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and has a budding YouTube channel.