Slow down, You Eat to Fast...Gotta Make the Moment Last!
- Mindfulness meets Dinner: Slow down, enjoy your food, and you’ll lose weight
- Sugar is addictive, and it has a tendency to contribute to obesity, which is hard on ones health, joints, and overall psychological well-being.
- If you eat when you’re not ready to have a whole meal, you’ll gain weight.
- Healthy living = health, reduction in healthcare costs, feeling psychologically more powerful and competent.
The year was 2013, I was the heaviest I’d ever been–190 lbs–when my employer introduced a wellbeing initiative called “Naturally Slim”(no affiliation). To be honest, it was the $100 incentive that first caught my eye. They were going to pay me $100 to take a free course on living more naturally slim–yes, please!
It was the classic online learning modules from someone reading from a script. But it made sense to me right off the bat. Naturally Slim wants its participants to eat slow for 10 minutes, pause for 5, and then continue for another 10 minutes. The ideal situation is to have your whole meal last for 20 minutes. Their argument is that it takes about 25 minutes for your stomach/gut to communicate to your brain that you’re full–ironically most people eat their food in 10 minutes or less and hence will almost always overeat. There’s several ways to slow down–move the food around your whole mouth, take small bites (it’s still all the same amount of flavor!), and put your utensils down between bites. It takes about 6 weeks to reset your appestat, which is the part of the brain that regulates your hunger and desired food intake–the program was 10 weeks in total.
When you eat matters. They separate your hunger levels into four categories. Let me paraphrase:
- “I’m full because I just ate a meal and I don’t want any more food”
- “I could eat if food was in front of me to snack or nibble at”
- “I’m hungry enough to eat a whole meal”
- “I’m HANGRY” (Hangry = anger caused by hunger).
A person burns the most fast between levels 2 and 3. So snacking is off the menu unless one is at a level 3 hunger and cannot eat, at which point a pre-approved “hunger saver” is allowed–it’s just there to bring you down from a level 4 and keep you going until you can eat a full meal. My go to were 15 minutes or 5 large strawberries, or even H2-OJ (See below). Thus the premise is one gains weight and stores fat every time one eats before reaching the third hunger level.
As a vegetarian, I didn’t follow their guidelines for eating meat, which meant that when I got hungry it came to me quickly. The threshold between level 3 and level 4 hunger was very thin–so I just was sure to always have hunger savers available.
They also want their participants to eat one food at a time as this apparently allows the stomach/gut to communicate to the brain that you’re enjoying and have had enough of said item before moving on to the next.
Start the day right with a daily allowance of 32 oz of H2-OJ (1 part Orange Juice to 7 parts water). I just used a regular old Nalgene bottle for my daily allowance and made sure that I drunk it before the day’s end. It was most helpful for when I got hungry or wanted sweets–took the cravings right out.
What can you eat while losing weight? Almost anything. But, unfortunately, no sugar, no cake, no wine (wine has high amounts of sugar and so is a double whammy), and no sugary alcoholic drinks (for the same reason as wine). Once you’re at the maintaining weight stage, you can add dessert back into your diet, but it must be incorporated into the meal by leaving room for dessert–it won’t work to eat until your full and then weight 20 minutes to create space to have that piece of grandma’s pie. Overeating will always result in weight gain.
Some Additional Tips for Success
TIP 1: Eat what you most desire first. Want that sweet potato above all else? Great, start in on that before you move on to the salad. Why? Because it’s far less tempting to over eat when it’s your least favorite food staring back at you from that plate than your favorite food.
TIP 2: Don’t weigh yourself everyday, but rather once a week at the same time–for me it was Thursday mornings. It was always harder for me to follow the strictest eating habits over the weekend but it was much easier to do so during the daily grind. In other words, it gave me a few days to re-correct if I had eaten too fast over the weekend, or didn’t eat quite at a level 3, etc.
Tip 3: If you’ve got to have a beer, have it when you’re at the 3rd hunger level and only with a meal. This helps to stave off the weight.
Tip 4: A little hunger pain is good–it’s just fat leaving the body. Before Naturally slim I would avoid hunger pain by snacking, which is just sabotaging behavior.
Tip 5: It’s good to track what you eat for at least the first couple of weeks. It’s really eye opening when you put it all down on paper.
Tip 6: If you didn’t lose weight in a week ask yourself “Did I over eat in my meals? Did I eat when I wasn’t at a level 4 hunger? Did I use the 10-5-10 slow eating method? Did I snack? Did I eat sweets?” When I was in the midst of this I would ask myself these questions and if I said “yes” to any of them it placed the responsibility back on me and not the Naturally Slim system. I shouldn’t have been surprised to gain weight if I didn’t follow the system. Engineer types usually do well in Naturally Slim because they don’t cheat, they follow the rules–follow the rules and you’ll lose weight and feel better.
I found the Naturally Slim system incredibly life changing–it gave me confidence to know that I could really change things within my own life.
A New Life
After Naturally Slim, I started exercising more and eating healthier, which provides long term health benefits. Exercise increases mood, focus, and improves your reaction time. Wendy Suzuki calls exercise, and the health benefits that derive from it, like a super-sized 401k for you brain. Anecdotally, my own Personal Physician just told me that a recent large study found that 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week prevents all kinds of diseases, slows down alzimers and dementia, and has overall long-term health benefits. I also started better sleeping habits, which is necessary for your immune system, memory, and overall health. People make fun of me for going to bed when I get tired (normally around 9pm), but there really could be nothing more natural.
So now, in addition to biking into work 5 days a week, I’ve also incorporated running 3 times per week for at least 30 minutes. Honestly, it’s the best time to get caught up on my podcasts, so it’s become something I look forward to. A $100 pair of running shoes is a small price to pay for a healthy life and staving off countless medical bills associated from a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Growing up with a type-two-diebetic father, I know first hand the ramifications of a poor diet with a lifestyle that promotes little or no exercise. It’s not a pie-in-the-sky idea to eat less/ eat better, exercise, and get 8 hours of sleep a night–it has real financial ramifications if you don’t.
I never used to think of myself as a “runner” or anything like that–but after a few small wins, I began to own that identity. Now, since 2013, I’ve been at or below my high school weight and have been able to maintain a much healthier lifestyle.
So what’s your story? How are you making small changes to dramatically alter the way you see yourself and positively affect your future financial life?