I eat fast, maybe too fast.
September 19, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

I eat very quickly. I enjoy my food well enough, but I seem to enjoy it at a rapid pace, which can be a bit awkward in company. Is there an easy mental realignment to eat slower?

So it seems that I eat quite quickly in comparison to other people. I certainly like what I eat, and chew sufficiently, and I take authentic pleasure in it, but I rarely "savor" stuff as such. This isn't a problem with the meals I take alone, and in fact it makes them quite convenient, but it's a bit awkward in company, where I often finish first and, as it were, reproach others with the emptiness of my plate (it's particularly evident in the company of my girlfriend, whose eating habits are as languid as mine are rapid). While being able to inhale food is occasionally useful, it doesn't feel entirely normal, and for all I know I'm depriving myself of some pleasure I could gain from a more leisurely approach. Is there an easy way to "retrain" myself to linger more over my food?
posted by jackbishop to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Talk more.

I talk too much and am therefore a slow eater.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 6:17 PM on September 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

Take smaller bites.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:21 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Put your utensil(s) down in between bites.
posted by juliplease at 6:22 PM on September 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

Finish what you have in your mouth before you put more food on your fork. (And yeah, put down your utensils in between bites and take smaller bites.)
posted by Specklet at 6:27 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Let your girlfriend know that you want to eat slower. She can remind you if she notices you wolfing things down. I like the idea of talking more, also.

I eat slowly and not that much, like your gf. The thing you mentioned about "savoring" is a big thing. Maybe start watching some of the cooking reality shows (Top Chef, Master Chef, etc.) because I've found, even if you're not that interested in cooking or chef-ery as such, they give you a vocabulary for thinking about food and describing flavors. I found that watching those shows made me care about the flavors and textures in my food more, even though I don't really care about the competition or reality aspect.
posted by bleep at 6:32 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eat with your of-hand
posted by itesser at 6:34 PM on September 19, 2012

posted by itesser at 6:34 PM on September 19, 2012

Chew each bite more. 30 times is the number you hear thrown around, but one of the secrets to taste is saliva. Saliva starts breaking your food down with various enzymes, and those enzymes change flavors.

Also, adequate exposure to saliva, and smaller chewed up pieces makes digestion easier and more efficient.
posted by bilabial at 6:55 PM on September 19, 2012

Best answer: Close your eyes when the food's in your mouth. This will force you to concentrate on the taste and the feeling of the food against your tongue, your palate and your teeth. Move it around some. Remember to breathe through your nose while you're doing all this (most of your "taste" is actually smell anyway).
posted by Etrigan at 7:07 PM on September 19, 2012

Do you wolf down food to satisfy the nuclear pit of hunger that has excavated itself since your last meal? If so, then drink a large glass of water about 30 minutes before the meal. That can help take the edge off the hunger, which will make it easier to follow the rest of the advice here (smaller bites on your fork, and put utensils down often).
posted by brianogilvie at 7:14 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you talked to your girlfriend about this? Does it really bother her? It seems baffling to me that anyone would care about (or even notice) how quickly his/her dinner companion is eating.
posted by sleepingcbw at 7:16 PM on September 19, 2012

If you normally drink a lot of liquid with your meal, try having a meal without any liquid and then drinking your drink when you are finished (I recommend sweet tea). It's easy to speed the food through the chewing/swallowing process if you are washing it down with a lot of liquid.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 7:27 PM on September 19, 2012

For me, the difference is between obtaining sustenance (eating on my own) and looking at the act of eating together as a kind of communion with my companions. Part of savoring food for me is sharing what I eat, and I think that alone slows me down when I remember to be a bit mindful of it.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:42 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a naturally fast eater (and naturally fast talker) who has learned to slow down. When I eat with other people, I'm usually in the middle of the pack when it comes to finishing.

1. Practice slow, purposeful eating on your own. This means that you serve the food in a dish, sit down at the table (not the computer) and focus on nothing but eating. No grazing from the fridge.

2. For a typical meal, aim to eat slowly enough for it to take 15-20 minutes. If you currently inhale your food, this will seem ridiculous, and it's probably slower than most solo eaters take, but it's something to aim for.

3. Chew more, even if it's something soft like yogurt. Try 20-30 chews per bite.

4. Put your eating implements down between mouthfuls.

5. Appreciate your food. You might find that eating slowly like this also means that you will notice that you're getting full while you're eating, so you're less likely to over eat. Typically, it takes about 20 minutes for your brain and stomach to let each other know that you've eaten enough.

After this solo practice, use these techniques when eating socially (maybe chew the soft stuff a little less if people notice, but they probably won't.) Enjoy the conversation. Take longer pauses between mouthfuls if you notice yourself getting ahead of others.

Really, this works. I'm still amazed.
posted by maudlin at 8:39 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Practice with penne. I know you can fit two or three of those suckers on your fork at once, but then you'll be done in no time. Go one at a time.
posted by gueneverey at 9:44 PM on September 19, 2012

I use much smaller spoons for spoon-needing food. And (only in the privacy of my own home) a cake fork for fork-needing foods.

(And when I slowed down it drastically reduced how much I wanted to eat.)
posted by taff at 12:45 AM on September 20, 2012

Mindful eating?
posted by paduasoy at 2:11 AM on September 20, 2012

Like everyone else said:

Smaller mouthfuls, chew more, put your utensils down when chewing, and don't load up the next mouthful before you have swallowed the current one.

Throw in some conversation, and you'll probably become the slowest eater at the table.
posted by jannw at 2:12 AM on September 20, 2012

Did you grow up "food insecure"?
posted by that's how you get ants at 7:00 AM on September 20, 2012

Chew more, even if it's something soft like yogurt. Try 20-30 chews per bite.
How do you chew yoghurt? I know my bf mocks me for not chewing my food and to me the idea that any spoon/forkful of food has 30 chews in it is ludicrous, but seriously how is it possible to chew yoghurt?

I'm notorious for inhaling my food too, nothing to do with being "food insecure", we weren't poor, far from it - for me dinner time was that annoying interruption to play time, the faster I finished my food, the faster I could go back to playing.

I can make a small plate of food last 20 minutes now if I try and I still don't chew my food! Don't load up your fork, only put a small amount of food on it and don't refill until you've completely finished the previous one, don't pre-cut or arrange, while food is in your mouth, don't touch the food on your plate. Putting down your utensils between each bite is going to look even more weird/noticeable than finishing too fast, unless your dining companion also does that. I put them down every 5 or so bites to take a sip of water or just take a pause. It does take a real concious effort but it can be done.
posted by missmagenta at 7:44 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

After sitting around for aWhile watching everyone else finish their meals, I realized I was eating too fast, and it's uncomfortable. Now I try to gauge my intake rate based on the other diners' plates. Oh, am I more than half done and everyone else looks like they took two bites? Time to put down the utensils, take a drink, ask a question, pause. Take a bite, repeat. Sometimes at first this meant I made my last three bites last a Very Long Time because I wouldn't notice it until I was almost done and everyone else had just started, but mindfulness and checking helped.

Extra bonuses: more enjoyable communication and extra hydration!
posted by ldthomps at 8:23 AM on September 20, 2012

I have had this same problem and three things have helped:

1) Putting down my fork between bites (agreeing with all mentions of that)

2) Preventing the other person from going on in monologue. As long as they are talking they are not eating - but you probably are. Encourage them to eat by contributing more to the conversation. DO NOT LET THEM RAMBLE.

3) Everytime I have the urge to take a bite I see how much they have left on their plate and decide if I should force myself to wait a bit longer before the next bite.
posted by UMDirector at 9:24 AM on September 20, 2012

Try using a pair of chopsticks to eat.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:26 AM on September 22, 2012

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