Friday, May 15, 2009

Foodie Fit Friday Tip: Slow Down and Savor

Soft Shell Crab
Jitlada's super-spicy (but tasty) fried soft-shelled crab will surely slow any diner's eating pace!

Weekends are usually more challenging in managing what you eat; less structure, more celebrations, etc. -- so here's a Foodie Fit Friday Tip to help with healthful eating for the next two days (and onwards!)

In a world of never-long-enough lunch breaks, quick-to-eat fast foods and eateries that can't wait to turn the table, it's all too easy for us to overeat, since it typically takes the stomach 20 minutes to send satiety/fullness signals to your brain to say, "enough food already!" But in a world where a meal can be finished a mere few minutes, by the time we get those signals we'd already have too much food from the sides, the appetizers, desserts and/or bread basket. And then comes that unpleasant bloated/food coma feeling, followed by the even worse thought of those extra pounds gained.

Of course, the obvious solution is to "slow down your eating!" but if you're anything like me, you've spent years honing down habit of wolfing things down in haste (and even nowadays, I tend to be one of the faster eaters in my group of friends.) But here's a few tricks I have to help me slow down the rate and give my stomach time to catch-up and send the appropriate satiety signals.

- Have a soup or salad beforehand (of course, opt for the lighter varieties like broth-based soups and vinegary dressings); because of their water content, they fill up your stomach space w/o piling on the calories.

- Have it hot (temperature and/or spicywise) both are great limiting factors to how quickly you can consume the food!

- Learn savor/enjoy/analyze your food (a la French Women Don't Get Fat); likely one reason why I started getting thinner AFTER I took on my foodblogging habit, between me evaluating what makes a particular dish so good/bad, jotting notes and taking photos, that's a lot of lag time for the food to settle in and the stomach to tell my brain it's full!

- Drink water (or any low-calorie beverage) between bites.

- For similar reasons, distract yourself while eating; engross in conversation with friends during meals, or if dining solo, bring a book / magazine to read or even sit at the bar and mingle with the bartender.

- and with buffets, take the smaller plate and sit at a table as far away from buffet as possible -- again maximizing the lagtime as you walk to and from helping yourself (not to mention squeezing in just a little more activity.)

- if possible, use smaller utensils; teaspoon instead of the soup spoon or salad fork instead of dinner fork, so it takes more time to finish a dish.

Got any tricks that work for you in terms of slowing down your eating pace? Would love to hear about it.
And of course, stop when you feel full; doggy-bag or leave the rest. To those who think it's wasteful to just "throw away" food, let me re-frame it: a few dollars in wasted food/drinks, or a few wasted thousands (even millions) of dollars in medications, surgeries, devices and care for all the obesity-linked ailments?