Do You “Inhale” Your Food?

I was on the computer today working at the hospital and heard loud gulping/chomping noises. A nurse was in the corner of the computer room literally inhaling her lunch (a salad). I have never seen someone eat so fast. She obviously very pressed for time and was able to finish an entire salad in about 2 minutes. I was fearful that she might choke (we call it “aspirate” in the hospital). I thought how sad is was that she needed to eat that fast. I suddenly rememeber I did the exact same thing at my lunch. I had only 5 minutes to eat my lunch as I had a phone session with a client on my lunch hour.  So I choose to eat a pre-made sandwich (from the cafeteria – yuk!) instead of the salad I brought to work because I calculated I could eat a sandwich in about 3 minutes and and it would take me at least 10 minutes to eat the salad.

I know that the nurse and myself at not alone in our need to “inhale” our lunches. I hear these stories every day from my clients  – ” No time to eat lunch”, “Meetings during my lunch hour”,  “No time to wait in line for a salad”. So we tend to grab the quickest (and not always the healthiest!) lunch choice available. I doubt the the”slim” Europeans are inhaling their food.

Trouble with eating too fast:
1. It takes 20 minutes to feel that you are getting full. By eating so quickly, it is likely that you won’t feel satiated.
2. Food is an important part of our lives and we should enjoy what we are eating. By eating so fast, you won’t get any pleasure from eating. This will make it more likely that you will be headed towards the vending machines in a few hours for a treat (candy, chips, etc.)
3. Increased chance of choking (seriously!)
4. You probably aren’t making the most nutritious choice. It takes a lot more time to eat a salad with grilled chicken as compared to a slice of pizza or burger.

Tips to slow down your rate of eating:
1. If you rarely have time to leave your desk for lunch, try bringing your lunch from home. At least it will be there when you are ready for lunch. And of course, bring in something healthy!
2. You really need to make lunch a priority. I actually feel that lunch is the most important meal of the day because it will help determine how your energy levels will be for the rest of the afternoon. Skipping lunch, eating the wrong kind of lunch or eating too little for lunch will cause your energy levels to drop a few hours later.
3. Meet a friend for lunch. Studies show we eat slower when we are with others. Not too attractive to inhale food in the prescence of others!
4. Set a goal of leaving at least 30 minutes for lunch. Iif possible, try to get out of your office. This will help to breakup your day, aid in stress management and most likely give you a little burst of energy (as compared to sitting at your desk staring at the computer).


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