Do you find yourself experiencing indigestion after a meal even if you didn’t eat any “trigger” foods? You might be eating too fast.
You may already know that “slow eating” is a dieting trick for weight loss. According to a study published in the Nutrients Scientific Journal, eating more slowly is an effective way to reduce the amount of food you consume in a meal. It may also make you feel fuller two hours after the meal. Eating at a quicker pace, on the other hand, may leave you craving (and consuming) more snacks. A 2014 study published by the Obesity Research Journal also suggests that taking the time to completely chew your food can boost your metabolism.
Eating slowly may also be helpful in alleviating your symptoms of heartburn. A study published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that rapid eating was linked to higher rates of acid reflux. During the experiment, researchers separated healthy volunteers into two categories: those that had to consume a standard meal in just five minutes, and those that consumed the same meal over the course of 30 minutes. Episodes of acid reflux were then recorded over a two-hour period.
After analyzing the data, investigators found that the five-minute meal was associated with more frequent episodes of acid reflux.
It should be noted that several studies, which used obese participants or adults who already suffered from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), found contradicting results. An experiment from 2013 found that the speed of food intake didn’t have much of an impact on patients with GERD. A study from 2017 also found that obese women, with and without GERD, did not experience significant changes when eating fast versus slowly.
Still, slowing down your pace during a meal may give you heartburn relief. The reason? It can prevent you from consuming too much food in one sitting. According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), a very large meal empties slowly from the stomach and puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This may prevent the LES from closing properly, which can cause food and stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
Speedy eating can also cause a range of other discomforts, including gas, bloating, and dysphagia. When you eat fast, you increase the amount of air you swallow, leading to a bloated stomach. You might also be taking bites that are too large. If you take large bites and feel that your food has a difficult time getting down to your stomach, you may be causing inflammation in the esophagus and exacerbating reflux symptoms.
So, what can you do right now to help change your eating patterns? You might begin by keeping hunger at bay throughout the day. If you find yourself ravenous by dinnertime, you’re more likely to eat too fast and eat too much. It’s important to turn off your phone or your TV as well. If you’re distracted while you’re eating, you won’t know how fast you are finishing your plate. You may also focus on chewing your food more thoroughly and drinking sips of water in between bites.
As another crucial piece of advice, be patient! By adding small, gradual changes to your eating habits, you may see a big difference over time.