I confess to not being a slow eater—and the hungrier I am, the faster food seems to disappear from my plate. But two new research studies from the University of Rhode Island have me vowing to put my fork down between bites, and to eat more slowly.
Both studies reveal crucial details on the role that the rate at which we eat has on the volume of food we consume. In one study, the researchers found significant differences in eating rates between men and women. At lunch, men consumed about 80 calories per minute, while women consumed 52 calories per minute.
As well, heavier people tend to eat faster than slimmer people. In terms of amount of food eaten, fast eaters consumed about 3.1 ounces (88 grams) of food per minute, medium-speed eaters consumed 2.5 ounces (71 grams) and slow eaters consumed 2.0 ounces (57 grams). The study also found that participants consumed a meal of whole grains—whole grain cereal and whole wheat toast—significantly slower than a similar meal of refined grains.
A second study found a close link between eating rate and body mass index (BMI)—a measure of body fat based on height and weight. People with a high BMI were typically eating considerably faster than those with a low BMI. One theory the researchers are evaluating is whether fast eating may be associated with greater energy needs, since those who eat faster—men and heavier people—tend to have higher energy needs.
This research builds on a 2007 study by the same group that showed women who were told to eat quickly consumed 646 calories in nine minutes, but the same women consumed just 579 calories in 29 minutes when encouraged to pause between bites and chew each mouthful 15 to 20 times before swallowing.
Do you find yourself eating too quickly, or do you have ways to ensure you eat slowly?