Sometimes you have to slow it down to speed it up.  That could be the case with your weight loss efforts.  If you feel like your diet is stuck in low gear, forcing yourself to chew v-e-r-y slowly could be key to jump starting success.  That’s the suggestion of a fascinating new study out of the University of Birmingham in the U.K.  Researchers asked 43 volunteers to eat their lunch (a 600 calorie sandwich) either normally or by being asked to continually chew their food for a duration of 30 seconds after each bite.  Two hours later, subjects were given the opportunity to snack from a bowl of Skittles and chocolate candies.  Those who’d chewed slowly at lunch ended up consuming 50% fewer candies at snack time!

Why might this be?  “Focusing on the process may help the brain remember food for a prolonged period of time, delaying hunger signal,” suggests Suzanne Higgs, Ph.D., co-author of the study published in the journal Appetite.  Another possibility, while slow chewing helps diners more fully savor food — over-chewing actually decreases the pleasure associated with the meal, which may in turn shadow the prospect of the next eating occasion.

While we don’t suggest sitting down to dinner with a stopwatch in hand, spending more time chewing your food is yet another way to tune into the signals your body sends you, including that oft ignored message, “I’ve had enough to eat, and require no more.”  Other mindful eating tricks: using chopsticks, turning of TV/gadgets during mealtime, trying to use your non-dominant hand, and sitting down (not standing at the kitchen counter) and sitting up (posture helps food settle).

Published July 1, 2013