Research Backs Advice for Dieters to Eat Slowly

One recommendation for losing weight is to slow down when you eat. But despite this recommendation, previous studies on the link between eating rate and kilojoule intake have had mixed results.

To clarify the relationship, researchers analysed 22 studies that experimentally altered eating rate and determined kilojoule intake and/or subsequent hunger. The studies manipulated food intake in four main ways: verbal instruction, manipulating the form of food (soft vs. hard), computerised feedback to slow eating speed, and manipulating food delivery (i.e., using a spoon vs. a straw).

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers say that a slower eating rate was associated with small-to-moderate but statistically significant reductions in kilojoule intake compared to faster eating. However, slower eating was not associated with reductions in hunger immediately after a meal or hours later. Reducing eating rate may be one way to decrease calorie intake, say the authors.

The next step is identifying ways to reduce eating speed that can be adopted in everyday life, they say. Many dietitians recommend not combining eating with other activities, such as watching television, as a way to be more mindful of how much and how fast you’re eating. Similarly, eating with others can help pace a meal, especially as you pause to talk.

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