Would you consider yourself to be a slow, moderate or fast eater?
If you’re not too sure about the answer, try these questions:
Are you one of those people that inhale their food? Oops – where did that go!
Are you the one that always finishes before everyone else at the table?
A large proportion of the population are fast eaters. Let’s face it, for many of us these days, life in general is fast. We’re all super busy. Some of us think it’s cool to be ‘busy’ and might even be competitive around that. We go around telling everyone how busy we are, we’re busier than they are.
"Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to"
- Rob Bell
Well eating fast is not an issue as long as it’s not causing you any unwanted symptoms. It’s also not an issue if you are not trying to lose weight. So if you are neither trying to lose weight or trying to get rid of unwanted symptoms such as digestive issues, fatigue, poor immunity, overeating & binge eating, you can stop reading right now & go do something else. If any of these DO apply to you then keep reading.
How could eating fast possibly affect your ability to lose weight?
Eating fast triggers a physiological stress response in the body
Eating fast deregulates appetite
Eating fast stops your body from noticing what it just ate
In this blog I’m going to focus on the stress response. So what does this mean? A physiological stress response is more commonly known as the fight or flight response. This response occurs in the Central Nervous System and humans developed this life saving response millions of years ago to keep us safe during life-threatening events such as encountering a dangerous animal or a natural disaster. The response allows us to either stand and fight the lion or run away to safety.
What actually happens in the body when the response is activated?
Heart rate increases
Blood pressure increases
Breathing speeds up
Adrenaline & noradrenaline are produced for quick energy
Cortisol & insulin are released into the blood stream
Blood is directed away from the midsection of the body, to the brain for quick thinking & to the arms & legs for fighting or running
THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM SHUTS DOWN!
Why does the digestive system shut down? – because it is more important for the body to use energy to survive than digest your toast & vegemite.
This whole response is designed to last for around 4 minutes because that’s about how much time you actually have to either fight or run. More than 4 minutes & chances are the animal won the battle.
So let’s translate this scenario to your life. You have 30 minutes for lunch, during which time you have to buy a new train ticket, buy a birthday present for your sister plus buy and eat your lunch. In just 30 minutes that’s all going to happen pretty quickly including eating the food. In other words you will be eating in a stress response and remember that means your digestion has shut down. Put this another way – your metabolism has slowed down, absorption of nutrients is not at it’s best, your gut does not produce all the enzymes that it needs plus there is decreased calorie burning capacity due to decreased oxygen uptake. Whoa! I’m stressed just typing all of that. So even if the lunch was super healthy there is very little chance of you absorbing all the fabulous nutrients it contained and you have a reduced capacity to burn off the calories it contained.
Does this ring a bell with you – you wolfed down your breakfast or lunch at the speed of light and for the next couple of hours it felt like it was just sitting there in your stomach? Well, it probably was. It was waiting for your body to return to it’s normal non-stressed state so normal digestion could resume.
What if normal digestion doesn’t resume because you are in a chronic low level stress response? Remember how I said the stress response is designed to last about 4 minutes? Chronic low level stress would mean your body constantly has impaired digestion and metabolism.
What causes chronic low level stress? I couldn’t possibly list all the causes here but here are just a few:
Unresolved emotional events in your past
Anger, tension, anxiety, judgement, lack of forgiveness
Not living an authentic life
Chronic dieting, counting calories & fat grams
Excessive exercise that you don’t really enjoy
I mentioned that cortisol & insulin are released during the stress response. These cause the body to hold on to fat & weight, while reducing muscle building. By the way muscles burn more calories in the body than fat so you really want to build those up. In the case of chronic stress, cortisol & insulin are almost constantly being released. Trying to lose weight under those conditions is like fighting a losing battle regardless of how little you eat or how much exercise you do.
So what’s the answer? SLOW DOWN! Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating says “Slow is the new Sexy”. I like that!
Slowing down is just the start.
In my next blog I will give you some tips for slowing down. In the mean time give it a go but be warned that if you’ve been eating fast for a long time, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Trust me, the results are worth it. In future blogs I’ll talk about some of the many causes of chronic stress & how to deal with them.
Pam Bailey is a Feel Good Facilitator, Helping Women Feel Good Every Day
Nutritionist, Eating Psychology Coach, Life Coach & Heal Your Life Workshop Facilitator.
She is an International Keynote speaker & workshop leader & also provides private coaching via Skype & in person.
For more information contact Pam on 0452 464 818 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org